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Full text of "Three lectures on aesthetic"

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THREE LECTURES ON AESTHETIC 



MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA • MADRAS 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO 
DALLAS • SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd, 

TORONTO 



THREE LECTURES 
ON AESTHETIC 



BY 

BERNARD BOSANQUET 

D.C.L., LL.D. 

FELLOW OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1923 




COPYRIGHT 

First Edition 1915 
Reprinted 1923 






PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



PREFACE 

These lectures were delivered at University 
College, London, in the autumn of 1914, 
and are printed with hardly any alteration. 
I must appear unfortunate in having 
laid so much stress on "feeling," just when 
high authorities are expressing a doubt 
whether the word has any meaning at all 
(see Croce's Aesthetic, and Professor J. A. 
Smith's discussion in Aristotelian Proceed- 
ings for 1913-1914). I can only say here 
that the first and main thing which the 
word suggests to me is the concernment of 
the whole " body-and-mind " (cp. p. 7, note), 
as Plato puts it in building up his account 
of psychical unity on the simple sentence, 
" The man has a pain in his finger " {Re- 
public, 462 d). It is the whole man, the 
" body-and-mind," who has the pain, and 

V 

AUt I '32 

^7a^ 



vi LECTURES ON AESTHETIC 

in it is one, though it is referred to the 
finger and locaUsed there. When a " body- 
and-mind " is, as a whole, in any experi- 
ence, that is the chief feature, I beheve, of 
what we mean by feehng. Think of him 
as he sings, or loves, or fights. When he 
is as one, I believe it is always through 
feeling, whatever distinctions may super- 
vene upon it. That unity, at all events, 
is the main thing the word conveys to me. 
I have not attempted to do justice to 
the sources of my ideas, for in the limits 
I had to observe my jus would have be- 
come injuria. Besides, I was trying my 
level best to talk straight and not learnedly 
to my audience ; and now I want to pre- 
serve the same attitude towards my pos- 
sible readers. 

BERNARD BOSANQUET. 

OxsHOTT, January 1915. 



CONTENTS 



LECTURE I 



PAOH 



The General Nature of the Aesthetic 

Attitude — Contemplation and Creation 1-37 

Plan of lectures ; nature of their interest ; three 
characters of aesthetic experience ; two further 
points. Feeling accepts laws of an object ; 
aesthetic semblance — degrees of aesthetic attitude ; 
depend on " form." Double meaning of " form " 
— how form comes to be felt — the " rising moun- 
tain " theory ; four criticisms. " Making a jar of 
yourself." True explanation in Imagination — 
its nature as free mind. 

" Contemplation " — true of creative artist, of 
dance or song? Judgment of taste. The critic. 
True imaginative attitude basis even of the critical 
attitude. The word expression ; its dangers. 



LECTURE II 

The Aesthetic Attitude in its Embodi- 
ments — " Nature " and the Arts . 38-75 

Simple patterns — expressive a priori ; fresh 
factor when pattern represents a thing ; knowledge 



viii LECTURES ON AESTHETIC 

and facts brought to bear — pattern may gain from 
experience and vice versa (like facts from laws and 
vice versa). True ground of admiration of realistic 
copying, the victory over difference of medium — 
separating soul of things from their body. Value 
and danger of representation. Aristotle on musi- 
cal expression. A priori expression versus repre- 
sentation in the arts. Patterns in drama. 

Why are there different fine arts ? Patterns in 
different media. The peculiar ideal in every art, 
due to imagination in its own medium. 

The medium of Poetry, signilicant sound — 
Bradley on Shelley ; Croce, false idealism, deny- 
ing value of bodily medium. Soul must have a 
body ; feeling and object ; festal view of art. 



LECTURE III 

Forms of Aesthetic Satisfaction and the 

Reverse — ^Beauty and Ugliness . 76-1 16 

Prefatory ; aesthetic education of ordinary 
man, e.g. in later nineteenth century till to-day. 
The home-coming from fairyland ; dregs of 
romance ; then Ruskin on Turner, and on the 
workman's life ; Euripides in Browning and 
others ; Pre-Raphaelitism ; Impressionism and 
after. 

Above prepares us for two meanings of beauty, 
the aesthetically excellent and the prima facie 
attractive ; the wider of these must include two 
classes, " easy " and " difficult " beauty. Typical 
cases of " difficulty " ; intricacy, tension, width. 

Now we can approach problem of Ugliness. Is 
it merely " difficult " beauty, i.e. dependent on 
error due to weakness of spectator ? Much of it is 
so, i.e. is not real ugliness. Pleasantness and re- 
verse cannot help us to decide ; beauty a prior 



CONTENTS ix 

character to them. Paradox of ugliness, as of evil 
and error, that if it means anything, it tends to 
come under head of its opposite ; yet seems to 
show a positive character of its own. Thus can- 
not be mere unexpressiveness, would have no 
aesthetic meaning ; must be unexpressiveness 
expressed through some kind of contradiction bear- 
ing a positive character. " Same thing looked for 
as in beauty, and opposite found." Thus real 
ugliness most at home in attempt at beauty which 
fails — i.e. in man's work, especially art. Freedom 
condition of art and beauty, so abstractions fatal. 
Goethe on characteristic art. 



THE GENERAL NATURE OF THE 
AESTHETIC ATTITUDE — CONTEM- 
PLATION AND CREATION. 

All that I intend to attempt in these three 
lectures is (i.) to point out what we mean 
when we speak of aesthetic experience as 
contrasted with any other, say, with theory 
or practice ; (ii.) to indicate what I take 
to be the chief grounds on which we dis- 
tinguish and connect its different provinces, 
the beauty of nature, for example, and 
the whole body of fine art, and then again 
the several fine arts ; and (iii.) finally to 
trace the divergence and connection of 
its contrasted qualities, such as receive the 
names of beauty and ugliness. Obviously, 
in so short a space, we must not attempt 



2 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

to be learned. We will describe and 
analyse our object straight away, to the 
best of our power. In the main, what we 
have to say will be quite elementary. 

In this first lecture we will try to get 
a prima facie notion of the aesthetic atti- 
tude, confining ourselves to its pleasant 
and satisfactory form. Ugliness and the 
like raise further problems, which we shall 
attempt in the third lecture. 

I must pause, however, just one moment 
before plunging into the subject. I must 
explain what sort of interest in Aesthetic 
I am presupposing in my audience. It is 
the interest of a branch of philosophy. It 
is to consider where in life the aesthetic 
attitude is to be found, and what is its 
peculiar form of value, as distinguished 
from other attitudes and objects in our 
experience. It is not to prescribe rules 
for the production of beauty, or for the 
criticism of artists' work. And again, 
it is not the interest in aesthetic science, if 
that means a detailed explanation of the 
causes of pleasantness and unpleasantness 



I THE ONE METHOD 3 

in sensation and imagination. From such 
a science we have much to learn, and we 
may often borrow illustrations from the 
very elementary cases which are all that 
it can deal with. But science — ^the tissue 
of causal explanations and general laws — 
and philosophy, — the analysis of forms of 
reality and their values — are for us different 
things. And our aesthetic is a branch of 
philosophy. 

A great deal indeed is said about philo- 
sophical aesthetic being deductive, arguing 
downwards from above, not inductively 
from below, and therefore pursuing an 
obsolete and metaphysical method. I con- 
fess that all this talk about method in 
philosophy seems to me rather foolish and 
wearisome. I only know in philosophy 
one method ; and that is to expand all the 
relevant facts, taken together, into ideas 
which approve themselves to thought as 
exhaustive and self-consistent. 

Now to plunge into our subject. The 
simplest aesthetic experience is, to begin 
with, a pleasant feeling, or a feeling of 



4 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

something pleasant — when we attend to it, 
it begins to be the latter. 

Is this all ? No. The peculiar quality 
which makes us distinguish it by a cer- 
tain set of adjectives, of which the word 
beautiful is the type, seems to be describ- 
able by three chief characteristics, closely 
connected with each other. 

. ji. It is a stable feeling— our pleasure in 

the something pleasant does not of itself 
pass into satiety, like the pleasures of 
eating and drinking. We get tired, e.g. 
at a concert, but that is not that we have 
had too much of the music ; it is that our 
body and mind strike work. The_aesthetic 
want is not a perishable want, which 
ceases in proportion as it is gratified. 
---.; ii. It is a relevant feeling — I mean it is 
attached, annexed, to the quality of some 
object — ^to all its detail — I would say 
" relative "if the word were not so ambigu- 
ous. One might say it is a special feeling, 
or a concrete feeling. I may be pleased 
for all sorts of reasons when I see or hear 
something, e.g. when I hear the dinner-bell, 



1 "DE GUSTIBUS "—FALSE 5 

but that is not an aesthetic experience 
unless my feehng of pleasure is relevant, 
attached to the actual sound as I hear it. 
My feeling in its special quality is evoked 
by the special quality of the something 
of which it is the feeling, and in fact is one 
with it.i 

iii. It is a common feeling. You can 
appeal to others to share it ; and its value 
is not diminished by being shared. If it is 
ever true that "there is no use disputing 
about tastes," this is certainly quite false 
of aesthetic pleasures. Nothing is more 
discussed ; and nothing repays discussion 
better. There is nothing in which educa- 
tion is more necessary, or tells more. To "j 
like and dislike rightly is the goal of all j 
culture worth the name. 

Now it is implied in these three 
properties — Permanence, Relevance, Com- 
munity — that the aesthetic attitude has 
an object. The feeling, we said, is a feeling 
of something. It is not, for instance, like 

^ There is a problem about tliis where meaning or repre- 
sentation come in. We shall return to it. 



6 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

the pleasantness of the general feeling of 

health, dependent on a general increased 

vitality. This probably contains aesthetic 

elements in it, or makes us sensitive to 

favourable aesthetic conditions ; but in 

the main it is much more general and less 

/^relevant. The aesthetic attitude is that 

j in which we have a feeling which is so 

S embodied in an object that it will stand 

/ / still to be looked at, and, in principle, to 

'J be looked at by everybody. 

This again brings with it two new 
points about the aesthetic experience. The 
mind's attitude in it is " contemplative," 
and its feeling is " organised," becomes 
"plastic," "embodied," or "incarnate." 
We might express the same thing by say- 
ing "rationalised" or "idealised"; but 
these terms are easily misunderstood. 

i. " Contemplative " is a word often 
applied to the aesthetic attitude, and we 
shall have to criticise it below. Prima 
facie, it indicates a similarity and a con- 
trast with theory and practice. All three 
are attitudes which a man takes up to- 



I LAWS OF AN OBJECT 7 

wards objects ; but in both theory and 
practice he does work upon the objects 
and alters them ; only in the aesthetic 
attitude he looks at the object and does 
not try to alter it. How this is reconcil- 
able with the facts of creative art, we shall 
see below. We might say at once, how- 
ever, that in creative art the production 
is as it were a form of perception ; it is 
subordinate to the full imagining, the 
complete looking or hearing. 

ii. Feeling becomes "organised," "plas- 
tic," or "incarnate." This character of 
Aesthetic feeling is all-important. For feel- 
ing which has found its incarnation or taken 
plastic shape cannot remain the passing re- 
action of a single " body-and-mind." ^ All 
the three points first mentioned are at once 
emphasised. Say you are glad or sorry at 
something. In common life your sorrow 
is a more or less dull pain, and its object — 
what it is about — remains a thought associ- 
ated with it. There is too apt to be no 

^ This expression, ^vritten as I write it here, is essential for 
aesthetic discussion. In it mind is all body and body is all 
mind. 



8 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

gain, no advance, no new depth of experi- 
ence promoted by the c. inection. But 
if you have the power to draw out or 
give imaginative shape to the object and 
material of your sorrowful experience, 
then it must undergo a transformation. 
The feeling is submitted to the laws of an 
object. It must take on permanence, order, 
harmony, meaning, in short value. It 
ceases to be a mere self-absorption. One 
may think of the little poem at the close 
of the book of Georgian poetry, or, on a 
larger scale, of In Memoriam. The values 
of which the feeling is capable have now 
been drawn out and revealed as by cutting 
and setting a gem. When I say " of which 
the feeling is capable," I only record the 
fact that the feeling has been thus de- 
veloped. For, of course, it is transformed, 
and the feeling as finally expressed is a new 
creation, not the simple pain, without 
large significance, w^hich was felt at first. 

It is just the same in principle if the 
embodiment is found and not created ; it 
may be a mountain or a flower. You have 



I THE SEMBLANCE IS THE SELF 9 

not the feeling and its embodiment. The 
embodiment, as you feel it, is the aesthetic 
feeling. 

This leads to a paradox. We can make 
the two statements, 

i. In the aesthetic attitude, the object 
which embodies the feeling is valued solely 
for what it is in itself. 

ii. In the aesthetic attitude, the object 
which embodies the feeling is valued solely 
for its appearance to perception or imagina- 
tion. 

This is because the embodiment of 
aesthetic feeling can only be an object as 
we perceive or imagine it. Anything in 
real existence which we do not perceive 
or imagine can be of no help to us in 
realising our feeling. So we may know a 
great deal about a thing as it really exists 
— its history, composition, market value, 
its causes or its effects ; all that is as good 
as not there for the aesthetic attitude. It 
is all incidental ; not present in the 
aesthetic object. Nothing can help us 



10 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

but what is there for us to look at, and that 
is what we perceive or imagine, which can 
only be the immediate appearance or the 
semblance. This is the fundamental doc- 
trine of the aesthetic semblance. Man is 
not civilised, aesthetically, till he has 
learned to value the semblance above the 
reality. It is indeed, as we shall see, in 
one sense the higher reality — the soul and 
life of things, what they are in themselves. 

So far the aesthetic attitude seems to be 
something like this : preoccupation with 
a pleasant feeling, embodied in an object 
which can be contemplated, and so obedient 
to the laws of an object ; and by an object 
is meant an appearance presented to us 
through perception or imagination. Noth- 
ing which does not appear can count for 
the aesthetic attitude. 

Now, no doubt, this attitude is actually 
met with in very many different degrees, 
and the cases on the border-line are very 
difficult to distinguish. I should say that 
there is probably some trace of the aesthetic 
attitude in almost all pleasant feeling. 



PLEASURE AND VALUE 11 

Take an ascending series of cases. There 
is the feeUng which attends eating when 
you are very hungry. There is httle or 
nothing in this pleasantness which recalls 
the characters we emphasised at first, as 
stable, relevant, and common. You can- 
not retain the pleasantness as the appetite 
becomes sated ; there is little in it to dwell 
upon ; there is very little to communicate. 
Tasting a fine wine, when you are not 
thirsty, has, on the other hand, a good deal 
in it of the latter kind. In Meredith's 
Egoist the praises of wines ascribed to Dr. 
Middleton are a case in point. He is able to 
analyse in terms of permanent and general 
value the different qualities of pleasantness 
that characterise the different wines. And 
this takes us beyond the mere feeling of 
pleasantness, to an object of imagination, 
with the character of which its peculiarity is 
blended. The sense of heat and cold, on 
the other hand, can give hardly anything 
like this ; it has no structure, no pattern, 
no connection of elements, to reveal. The 
sense of smell again gives, prima facie. 



12 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

nothing of the kind ; and if it seemed ever 
to give material for an aesthetic attitude, 
it would surely not be the pleasantest scent 
that would do so, but that which had the 
most interesting associations, say the smell 
of peat or of the sea. And this, we may 
note, would be so far a false value, as the 
beauty of the sea or of the moors would 
not really be given in the nature of the 
scent, but merely attached to it because 
they had been perceived together in the 
past ; more or less as the memory of 
Florence may be connected with my old 
portmanteau, which gets no aesthetic value 
from the connection, or very very little. 

Now consider the sense of touch ; I 
mean that by which we can follow lines 
and surfaces in relief. Many of the audi- 
ence would be better judges here than I 
am. The question how far it can give 
aesthetic pleasure is, I suppose, the question 
how far it can convey to one the character 
of a curve or pattern or modelled surface. 
Without movement, I should presume, it 
cannot do so at all. With movement, I 



I PARADOX OF FORM 13 

suppose that the hand of a bhnd person, 
for example, can convey a good deal of 
aesthetic quality. It seems to me in 
principle to be as if you had to appreciate 
a painting by the eye through a narrow ^ 
slit moving over its surface — I suppose 
how far you could do it would be a matter 
of degree. It is difficult to answer in 
each particular case, but by comparing 
the cases it is possible to see the nature of 
the factor in them according to which their 
aesthetic quality varies. Generally speak- 'N jA 
ing, as we all know, the aesthetic senses I'^^T^ 
are supposed to be those of sight and hear- I hn^^^^jS 
ing alone ; and no doubt they possess the s ^.^"""""""^ 
character we are tracing in a pre-eminent-''' 
degree. 

Here then we are confronted with a new 
statement of the character which is funda- 
mental in the aesthetic attitude. All that 
we have so far observed about it is now 
summed up in a single monosyllable, when \ 
we say that the aesthetic attitude is that I 
of feeling embodied in " form." i 

This " form " is what is present in vary- 



14 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

ing proportions in all the different grades 
of the aesthetic attitude which we noted, 
and what is absent in m far as the aesthetic 
attitude is absent. The conception of it 
is all-important both for aesthetic theory 
and for all philosophy, and we shall have 
gained something from these lectures if 
only we can master the right, which is also 
the effective, point of view for dealing with 
it, once for all. 

We will start from two opposite state- 
ments about it. 

The Form of an object is not its matter 
or substance. 

The Form of an object just is its matter 
or substance. 

The reason why both statements are 
true is that we apprehend objects with 
different degrees of insight or energy ; and 
so we may only appreciate them as dull 
masses of stuff, or again we may appreciate 
them as living units connected and full of 
character through and through. The least 
and lowest interconnection an object can 
have is its outline in space, and this seems 



I FORM "VERY MATERIAL" 15 

not to have to do with the stuff it is made 
of. And that is the rudimentary contrast 
of form and materiaL And, of course, we 
never can resolve any object into pure 
form, pure energy or vitahty, or we should 
be as gods — everything would be to us all 
spring and life and perfection, with no 
residue at all. But a contrast, like that of 
outline and stuff, always haunts us in some 
degree ; though we learn more and more 
that the two factors are inseparable; 
e,g. every stuff has its own characteristic 
outline. 

So (i.) Form means outline, shape, 
general rule, e.g. for putting together a 
sentence, or an argument ; or it means the 
metre in poetry, or the type of poem, 
sonnet or what not. In all these it is 
something superficial, general, diagram- 
matic. We speak of empty form, mere 
form, formal politeness ; it is opposed to 
the heart and soul of anything, to what is 
essential, material, and so forth. 

But (ii.) when you push home your in- 
sight into the order and connection of 



16 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

parts, not leaving out the way in which 
this affects the parts themselves ; then 
you find that the form becomes (as a 
lawyer would say) " very material " ; not 
merely outlines and shapes, but all the sets 
of gradations and variations and connec- 
tions that make anything what it is — ^the 
life, soul, and movement of the object. 
And more than this, every form, which you 
might be inclined to contrast with matter, 
has behind it a fui-ther form in the matter 
itself; for this determines, as we say, 
" what you can do with it," with clay or 
bronze or marble or oil or water-colour, 
with the string-vibration or the Greek or 
English tongue ; the order and connection 
of the parts of these stuffs are a form 
which determines the more artificial shape 
you can give them, say, in works of art. \/ 

Bearing in mind this graded distinction, 
we can easily see the rights and wrongs of 
applying such terms as " form " and 
*' formal " to any experience. It all de- 
pends on the degree of insight with which 
the object of experience is appreciated. 



I "HIGHER" MORE BEAUTIFUL? 17 

and, of course, on the degree of life and 
structure which a thing actually possesses. 
In principle, form and substance are one, 
like soul and body. But we continue to 
contrast them as we do soul and body, be- 
cause there is always some failure to bring 
them quite together, perhaps on their own 
part, and certainly on ours. 

" Degree of life and structure which a 
thing actually possesses.'''' That affects its 
aesthetic quality less than one might think, 
for this reason. 

The " object " in the aesthetic attitude, 
we saw, can only be the appearance, not 
what we call the real thing, what we say 
we know about. Therefore our imagina- 
tion, or imaginative perception, has a 
practically infinite choice of objects, be- 
cause all appearances of things, in any 
context or connection, are open to it. Now, 
obviously, the possibilities of discerning 
" form " vary as much as the apparent 
objects do. A cloud, e.g., we know to be 
a mass of cold wet vapour ; but taken as 
we see it with the sun on it, it has quite 



18 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

different possibilities of revealing aesthetic 
form, because its wonderful structure is 
all variously lit up, and so lit up it is the 
object or semblance which matters. And 
that appearance is all our feeling needs to 
attach itself to, to find form in. This 
explains an interesting point. It has been 
thought that you must come to higher 
aesthetic quality as you go up the scale of 
creation, because in that way you come to 
higher structures. But the fact is, that 
in a sense these higher structures, e.g. of 
animals, limit your imagination. They 
do not merge in a new context so readily 
as do the sea or the clouds, which can take 
on innumerable variations of appearance. 
And it is the task of aesthetic perception — 
perception when it passes into imagination 
— ^to choose or create the object, the appear- 
ance, whose form or soul or life will satisfy 
feeling. 

Now the principle which it is necessary 
to grasp is the gradual drawing out or 
making more of feeling, as a fuller degree 
of form is appreciated in aesthetic experi- 



THE "RISING" MOUNTAIN 19 

ence. In addition to the examples which 
I suggested above, one might select cases 
within the same progression — a square, a 
cube, a Doric column, a decorative pattern. 
As the object reveals more form the feeling 
which is united to it has, as we say, " more 
in it " ; more to take hold of, to dwell 
upon, to communicate. Great objects of 
art contain myriads of elements of form 
on different levels, knit together in more 
and more complex systems, till the feeling 
which they demand is such as to occupy 
the whole powers of the greatest mind, and 
more than these if they were to be had. 

We have spoken constantly of the 
fusion of feeling with the object or sem- 
blance, and more especially with its form, 
or connecting and pervading correlations 
— what we have briefly summarised as its 
life or soul. The root of this possibility 
we mentioned at the beginning ; it is that 
every feeling is a feeling of something. It 
is the sense of the special difference made 
in the vitality of our body-and-mind by 
living in a certain experience. How 



20 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

exactly a feeling can be identified with an 
object seems to demand some further ex- 
planation, and as a mere illustration we 
may refer to a theory which sometimes sets 
itself up as almost the whole of aesthetic. 
It is of this kind. You see a mountain on 
the horizon,^ and you say it rises from the 
plain. This idea of the mountain rising is 
full of all sorts of associations of life and 
energy and courage. How is it at once a 
feeling in you and a characteristic of the 
mountain ? The answer given is that in 
your act of perception of the lofty object 
you actually raise your eyes and strain 
your head and neck upwards, and this 
fills you with the feeling of an effort of 
exaltation, and this, with all its associated 
imaginative meaning, you unconsciously 
use to qualify the perception of the moun- 
tain, which as a perceived object is the 
cause of the whole train of ideas, and 
this, it is said, is so throughout. You 
always, in contemplating objects, especially 

1 Vernon Lee, The Beautiful, p. 61 ff. This falls under 
the doctrine of Empathy or Einfiihlung, but is far from giving 
an account of it. 



I DANGER OF SPECIALTIES 21 

systems of lines and shapes, experience 
bodily tensions and impulses relative to 
the forms which you apprehend, the rising 
and sinking, rushing, colliding, reciprocal 
checking, etc. of shapes. And these are 
connected with your own activities in 
apprehending them ; the form, indeed, or 
law of connection in any object, is, they 
say, just what depends, for being appre- 
hended, upon activity of body-and-mind 
on your part. And the feelings and associa- 
tions of such activity are what you auto- 
matically use, with all their associated 
significances, to compose the feeling which 
is for you the feeling of the object or the 
object as an embodied feeling. 

This theory gives a very vivid illustra- 
tion of the way in which a feeling and an 
object can become identified. 

With regard to this theory in this very 
limited form, I will make four observations. 

i. In dealing with the whole range of 
aesthetic imagination I very greatly dis- 
trust all highly specialised explanations. 
I have seen books which said that all 



22 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

decorative patterns sprang originally from 
the lotus flower ; others which said that 
they sprang from the shapes of garden 
beds ; others ascribed many of them to 
conventionalisation of curves when adapted 
to basket work ; another theory I have seen 
which referred all expression to the con- 
cavity and convexity of curves, the con- 
cave being receptive and the convex re- 
pellent ; and there is some one reviving an 
old theory of spirals to-day. I believe the 
store of such suggestions to be unlimited. 
And I do not doubt that they and thousands 
like them indicate sources of stimuli by 
which now and again one or another 
person's imagination has been set in 
motion. 

ii. I quote a portion of an explanation 
of this kind. "Here^ is a jar, equally 
common in antiquity and in modern 
peasant ware. Looking at this jar one has 
a specific sense of a whole. To begin with, 
the feet press the ground while the eyes fix 

1 Vernon Lee, cited in Mitchell's Structure and Growth of 
the Mind, p. 504. 



1 A FALSE REDUCTION 23 

the base of the jar. Then one accompanies 
the hft up, so to speak, of the body of the 
jarby ahftupof one'sownbody. . . . Mean- 
time the jar's equal sides bring both lungs 
into equal play ; the curve outwards of the 
jar's two sides is simultaneously followed 
by an inspiration as the eyes move up to 
the jar's highest point." This very nearly 
means, " that we have to make a jar of our- 
selves in order to be absorbed in the jar 
before us." In the first place, this gives an 
unreal prominence to lines and shapes. It 
is a great mistake to confuse aesthetic 
form with spatial shape, though shape, as 
we saw, is very likely the first occasion of 
our distinguishing form. And lines and 
shapes are no more form-giving than colour 
and tones. Colour-contrast and gradation, 
as also the harmonic relations of tones, 
belong to aesthetic form just as much as 
shape in space or rhythm in time. In 
the second place, all these bodily tensions 
and movements would really be incon- 
sistent with each other. Our practised 
imagination or perception does not require 



24 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

all these detailed auxiliaries, and would in 
fact be impeded by them. 

How sharp the silver spearheads charge 
Where Alp meets heaven in snow. 

One cannot believe that these lines appeal 
to us through bodily movements. 

iii. A good example is the case of move- 
ments of the eye. It has been supposed ^ 
that when we take pleasure in a graceful 
curve, our eye is executing this same curve, 
" that we feel pleasure in this movement, 
or in the ease of it, and turn this pleasure 
into a quality of the object whose outlines 
we follow." Well, it simply is not so. 
The eye in following a curve moves with 
jerks and in straight lines. " The muscles 
of the eye are mere scene-shifters." ^ The 
curve is an object of perception, and the 
character with which our imagination 
invests it comes, no doubt, from some- 
thing in our experience. But there is no 
possible reason, with the whole world of 
experience to draw upon, why it should 
come from the movement of our eyes, and, 

» Mitchell, op cit. p. 501. « Ibid. 



I MORE THAN A FANCY? 25 

as we have seen, it could not possibly do 
so. Of course it remains true that we 
must be able to live or live in the detail of 
the object if our pleasant feeling is to be- 
come a property of it, so that it (the object) 
is the body of our pleasure. But in order 
to do this we have the whole world of 
imagination, about which we must speak 
directly. 

iv. But before going on to speak of 
Imagination there is one point of principle 
to notice. Such a theory as we have just 
referred to carries very different weight 
if we believe it to be a vehicle of illusion, 
and if we believe it to be an interpretation 
of truth. You might say, indeed, " Why 
surely it is much more important if it con- 
veys the truth than if it promotes illusion." 
But that is not so in every respect. If 
what it conveys is truth — if there really is 
in Nature and the world a pervading life 
and divinity — then this special theory is 
only one among innumerable illustrations 
of the ways in which we can come to the 
realisation of this truth ; to penetration 



26 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

of the open secret of the world as the 
manifestation of a central life and spirit. 
But if what it conveys is in principle an 
illusion, then our imagination has nothing 
to support it but just this machinery of 
transferring our own activities to an object, 
with which they really have nothing to do. 
And in this case the special theory which 
explains how the transference is possible 
seems necessary to justify our aesthetic 
attitude, though really in explaining it, 
it explains it away. It is the difference 
between a fancy and a revelation. 

We have often referred to imagination. 
There is a tendency to think of imagina- 
tion as a sort of separate faculty, creative 
of images ; a tendency which puts a 
premium on the arbitrary and fantastic 
in beauty, rather than the logical and the 
penetrative. But this, I take it, is simply 
a blunder. The imagination is precisely 
the mind at w^ork, pursuing and exploring 
the possibilities suggested by the connec- 
tion of its experience. It may operate, of 
course, in the service of logical enquiry. 



AESTHETIC IMAGINATION 27 

and of exact science itself — the scientific 
use of the imagination is a well-known 
topic. The only difference is that when 
imagination is free, when the mind is 
operating, for instance, not in the service 
of theoretical truth, but in that of aesthetic 
feeling, then it altogether ceases to be 
bound by agreement with what we call 
reality as a whole. It cannot help starting 
from what we call experience, from what 
we have felt and seen, because there is 
nothing else to start from ; but its guiding 
purpose is the satisfaction of feeling, and 
not the construction of a system in which 
every fact shall have its logically appro- 
priate place. The only test is, whether 
it satisfies the feeling which inspires it. 
And its method need not be logical, though 
it often is so, and I incline to think is so 
in the best imaginative work. By saying 
it need not be logical, I mean that in 
following out a suggestion it need not 
adhere to the main thread of connection. 
It may start afresh on any incidental 
feature that presents itself. Practically, 



28 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

imagination is the mind working under 
great reservations which set it free ; pur- 
suing trains of images or ideas which 
comparison with the complete fabric of 
fact — from which its reservations protect 
it — would arrest or disfigure. It is a 
curious question how far a great work of 
imagination might conceivably be more 
consistent and more solid than what we 
call real reality. The objection of prin- 
ciple would be, that, just because imagina- 
tion and reality only differ in degree, any 
such solid and consistent imagination 
would of itself pass over to the enemy and 
fortify and enlarge the world of real facts, 
just as Shakespeare's imagination rein- 
forces our knowledge of real human nature. 
You cannot say " Shakespeare's world of 
fancy is greater and more thorough than 
our world of fact," because Shakespeare's 
world of fancy has inserted itself into our 
world of fact. But the world of imagina- 
tion is in no way subordinate to the total 
structure of real fact and truth. It is an 
alternative world, framed, no doubt, on the 



I IS ART CONTEMPLATIVE? 29 

same ultimate basis, but with a method 
and purpose of its own, and having for its 
goal a different type of satisfaction from 
that of ascertained fact. 

This being so, we have the mind work- 
ing freely upon the entire resources of our 
direct and indirect experience, when our 
imagination is presenting us with an object 
as the embodiment of our pleasant feeling. 
And we do not need a special doctrine of 
how we come to attach what we feel to the 
object any more than of how we come to 
attach to it qualities of colour, shape, or 
sound. Take a square or a cube — ^the 
simplest possible cases. Four-square with- 
out a flaw ; four-square to all the winds 
that blow ; the same in all directions ; 
almost impossible to upset, and so forth. 
The shape is full of feeling for us the 
moment it is seen imaginatively — that is, 
freely. 

So far, we have get something like this. 
The aesthetic attitude is an attitude in 
which we imaginatively contemplate an 



30 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

; object, being able in that way to live in it 
^j as an embodiment of our feeling. 

Now I am uneasy about this word 
" contemplate." No doubt it makes a 
very good distinction against the practical 
and the theoretical frames of mind ; which 
in contrast with it are very like each other. 
For, I think, we must distinguish the 
theoretical, at least in modern usage, 
from the "theoretic." "Theoretic" is 
pretty much " contemplative," while 
" theoretical " indicates a very busy 
activity aimed at putting together hypo- 
theses and testing them by facts. It is 
in this sense that it is so sharply opposed 
to " theoretic " or contemplative. 

This word contemplative seems to fit 
. the attitude of three kinds of people — the 
lover of Nature, the looker - on at the 
spectacle of art, and the critic. But it 
does not seem to me to fit, prima facie, the 
attitude of the person who is surely most 
to be considered in aesthetic, that is, the 
artist. And I should not be easily per- 
suaded that an attitude in the spectator 



I ABSORBED, " CARRIED AWAY " 31 

and the nature-lover, which is wholly alien 
to that of the creative artist, can be the 
true aesthetic attitude. The arts which 
appeal to the eye exercise too much 
glamour over us. Think of singing, acting, 
dancing ; the feeling of following music or 
reading poetry with true poetic apprecia- 
tion. 

Then go back to the simple case, say, 
of a mountain, or of the sea in a storm, 
when you call it splendid. Surely we enter 
into these objects in some way ; we are 
absorbed ; they carry us away. I find 
some difficulty here in recent aesthetic 
books ; they want you to maintain a 
contemplative attitude and yet to be 
absorbed in the object, which involves, I 
should say, being carried away by it, e.g. 
in music. 

You find the same problem if you look 
for the aesthetic attitude in the " judgment 
of taste." It implies a tradition which is 
not altogether wholesome. Taste, a meta- 
phor drawn, we note, from an wwaesthetic 
sense, suggests a rather superficial judgment 



32 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

of how things go together ; hke WilHam 
James's maHcious example of aesthetic 
judgment, " lemon juice goes well with 
oysters." Starting from the judgment of 
taste goes along with the idea that the 
aesthetic attitude is mainly critical, ex- 
ternal. Some great men have rebelled 
altogether against this suggestion, and 
have said that good taste pretty generally 
fails to appreciate genius. 

It is pretty much the same problem 
when you ask how the spectator's enjoy- 
ment is related to the creative artist's. 
Take a drama, for instance. The spec- 
tator must be absorbed and move along 
with it. His is really a lower degree of the 
creative artist's feeling. Then what about 
the critic ? Has he the same attitude, 
and if not, which is the right one ? 

The word that will help us here and 
show us how to appreciate all these points 
of view is perhaps that we discussed above, 
" Imagination." From the simplest per- 
ception of a square or a cube, or of a rock 
or stream, upwards to the greatest achieve- 



I IMAGINATION CREATIVE 33 

ments of music or the drama, it is plain, 
I think, that the aesthetic attitude must 
be imaginative. That is to say, it must 
be the attitude of a mind which freely 
tracks and pursues the detail of experience 
for the sake of a particular kind of satisfac- 
tion — not the satisfaction of complete and 
self-consistent theory, but the automatic 
satisfaction, so to speak, of a complete 
embodiment of feeling. The important 
point seems to me to be that " contempla- 
tion " should not mean " inertness," but 
should include from the beginning a creative 
element. I have avoided, indeed, through- 
out this lecture, the word which I myself 
believe to be the keyword to a sound 
aesthetic, because it is not altogether a 
safe word to employ until we have made 
ourselves perfectly certain of the true 
relation between feeling and its embodi- 
ment. But to say that the aesthetic , 
attitude is an attitude of expression, con- 
tains I believe if rightly understood the 
whole truth of the matter. Only, if we 
are going to use this language, we must 



34 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

cut off one element of the commonplace 
meaning of expression. We must not 
suppose that we first have a disembodied 
feeling, and then set out to find an embodi- 
ment adequate to it. In a word, imagina- 
tive expression creates the feeling in creat- 
ing its embodiment, and the feeling so 
created not merely cannot be otherwise 
expressed, but cannot otherwise exist, 
than in and through the embodiment which 
imagination has found for it. 

When we say then, that the aesthetic 
attitude is contemplative, we do not mean 
much more than that in it there is always 
an appearance before us, and that it is in 
the character and detail of this appearance 
that we find the gratification of an em- 
bodied feeling. We do not mean to deny 
that throughout, from beginning to end, 
from James's example onwards and up- 
wards, imagination is active and creative, 
in other words, that the mind is freely 
reconstructing and remodelling all that 
perception presents to it in the direction 
which promises the maximum of " form." 



I CREATION AND CRITICISM 35 

The manual practice of art is not, I take 
it, an obstacle to this creative work of 
imagination, but on the contrary, as we 
shall see, is its essential medium and in- 
tensification. And the spectator's attitude 
I take to be merely a faint analogue of the 
creative rapture of the artist. 

The relation of the purely critical atti- 
tude to that of the spectator who enjoys 
and the artist who creates, does not seem 
to me altogether an easy problem. I think 
we shall be on the right lines if we demand 
in principle that the substratum of the 
critical attitude shall be the full imagina- 
tive experience, certainly of the spectator 
who enjoys, and as far as possible of the 
artist who creates. The true critic, indeed, 
is he, and he only, who can teach us rightly 
to enjoy. And we must bear in mind 
that the imagination itself is necessarily 
very sensitive to checks and failures in its 
efforts after satisfactory form — and this 
genuine sensitiveness, I should suppose, 
must be the basis of the true critical 
estimate. 



36 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

But I should suppose that for the com- 
plete realisation of the critical attitude 
something further is required. I take it 
that the critic must go back in memory 
and reflection upon his full imaginative 
experience, and draw out and emphasise 
the points at which failure or success in 
expression have forced themselves on his 
feelings with a completeness of analysis 
which would hardly be compatible with 
the full enjoyment of the imaginative 
experience itself. And we have to re- 
member that the critic's principal duty 
after all is not to point out blemishes, 
but rather to teach us to enjoy. And 
therefore even for him the greatest 
possible fulness of the imaginative ex- 
perience is the main and indispensable 
condition. 

We may conclude then that the aesthetic 
attitude so far as enjoyable may fairly be 
described in some such words as these : 
The pleasant awareness of a feeling em- 
bodied in an appearance presented to 
imagination or imaginative perception ; or, 



I EXPRESSION FOR ITS OWN SAKE 37 

more shortly, " Feeling expressed for ex- 
pression's sake." 

In the following lecture we shall speak 
of the relation of nature and art, and of 
the distinction of the latter into kinds. 



II 



THE AESTHETIC ATTITUDE IN ITS EM- 
BODIMENTS— " NATURE " AND THE 
ARTS. 

The natural order in which to approach 
the problems of any enquiry is the order 
of their difficulty. When you have solved 
the simplest, its solution affords the basis 
for an approach to the next simplest, and 
so on. 

Therefore we are not at all concerned 
with the historical order of things. What 
we Avant to do to-day is to form some idea 
of the rank taken by the different achieve- 
ments of the aesthetic spirit, arranged in 
accordance with the difficulties which are 
overcome in each of them, or in other words, 
with the degree of aesthetic embodiment 
which they respectively achieve. 

38 



LECT.ii PLEASANTNESS "A PRIORI" 39 

The simplest cases of aesthetic utter- 
ance, the easiest to apprehend and explain, 
are some which I should like to call, in a 
usage which I am aware is very lax, a 
priori embodiments of the aesthetic spirit. 
We spoke in the last lecture of the square 
and the cube, which carry their steadiness, 
and sturdiness, and equality in all direc- 
tions, actually written on their faces. 
That's all square, we say. We do not 
pledge ourselves to any one special meaning 
expressed in words. An aesthetic embodi- 
ment can be embodied in nothing but itself. 
But the constant application of expressions 
like those cited here and above suffice to 
show that these simple patterns are obvious 
or a priori embodiments of simple feelings. 
Along with them we may place simple 
rhythms, simple melodies, the pulsations 
of the dance, and the like. These are 
in fact simple patterns ; and all of them 
have obvious analogies with each other. 
Hogarth described his enjoyment of the 
" stick and ribbon ornament " (the 
guilloche) as like that of watching a 



40 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

country dance. This reminds us of the 
theory of the rising mountain we referred 
to in the last lecture. 

In all these objects of aesthetic feeling, 
whose pleasurableness I have ventured to 
call a priori, we have what might be called 
the simplest formal character. The three 
characteristics of aesthetic objects which 
we began by laying down in the last 
lecture, are here plain and obvious, 
y stability, relevance, community, rooted 
in the character of the mere abstract 
pattern which we perceive or in which we 
are absorbed (as in the rhythm of the 
dance). Fast or slow, simple or intricate, 
self-completing or interrupted — all these 
characters seem to adhere immediately 
to the lines and movements, colours and 
sounds which fall into the simple arrange- 
ments. I am not asserting that this is the 
earliest origin of, say, the dance. We are 
not speaking historically ; and it is quite 
possible that a representative meaning in, 
e.g., the dance, as the war dance, the bear 
dance, the Dionysus dance, may be older 



PATTERN AND THING 41 

than the recognition of the simple aesthetic 
value of sound and rhythm. But that does 
not concern us to-day. We are concerned 
with aesthetic value, and with that alone. 

The point, for aesthetic theory, is that 
so far, in such a priori expression, we have 
no element of representation or almost 
none. "Almost none," because some one 
might urge that a cube drawn on paper 
can only have its peculiar character by 
being taken to represent an actual solid 
cube of wood or stone. And that would 
be so with the rising mountain, if we think 
of it as a mountain. But that is really 
not necessary at this primary level. The 
square drawn on paper is enough, and so 
are the systems of lines and shapes (such 
as the pattern from the ceiling at Orcho- 
menus) and the simple living in the pulsa- 
tions of the dance. 

We get to a point beyond this in 
difficulty and complexity — whatever the 
historical relations may be — when we get 
two factors to deal with instead of one. 
You may have a drawing on paper which 



42 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

is a square pattern ; and you may have 
one — the early draughtsmen were very 
fond of them — which not only is a pattern 
on paper or on gold, but which represents, 
say, a bull hunt. 

This is a new factor, and it introduces 
not only quite a different motive in art, 
but the entire problem of what passes as 
the beauty of nature. Because obviously a 
drawing of a bull hunt recalls to us things 
rather than patterns. For a pattern, as 
a rule, you want the help of a draughts- 
man ; but for things you can see all round 
you every day, you seem to want no help 
at all. Only they do not prima facie 
show you simple abstract patterns ; and 
so, how do you bring them to act as an 
aesthetic embodiment of feeling ? 

And the same difficulty applies to a 
whole great branch of the activity of fine 
art. It may draw for you a bull hunt, or 
sculpture Phoebus Apollo, or sing to you 
the story of Troy. All this is on a quite 
different footing from what we called the 
a priori form of aesthetic expression. 



II THE "THING" IN AESTHETIC 43 

There is a tendency to bring in mere facts ; 
to test the representation by your know- 
ledge and to demand that it should by 
that test be adequate, and even to say that 
its aesthetic value lies in bringing these 
independent facts and beings completely 
and faithfully before you. In short, there 
is a vicious tendency to subordinate ex- 
pression to knowledge, which means losing 
hold of the principle of aesthetic semblance. 
This is, as we saw, that for aesthetic value 
we need, and can use, nothing in the way 
of embodiment which is not an appearance 
moulded freely by the mind as a vehicle 
of aesthetic form, the soul of things, in 
which we live them. 

The aesthetic problem at this point 
springs from an embarrassment of wealth. 
In place of a comparatively small range of 
simple and obvious expression, we have 
thrown upon our hands the whole abund- 
ance of the sensible and imaginable world 
as a claimant for aesthetic value. We 
seem forced in some way and degree to 
admit knowledge and fact as instruments 



44 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

of expression ; to use our experience of 
the character and quahties which things 
have really and in actuality, to help our 
imagination in its exploration of the forms 
which respond satisfactorily to feeling. 

It is plain that we are not to lose hold 
of what we have got ; the simple pattern 
or rhythm which we ventured to call ex- 
pressive a priori. Every work of art and 
every thing of beauty presents such a 
pattern, so to speak, on its surface. But 
we must contrive to understand how the 
same principle can extend into the sphere 
of the representation of things ; of which 
things, prima facie, we know only what we 
have learned from experience, and can say, 
it would seem, little that is necessary or 
inevitable as to the connection of appear- 
ances with any character or quality which 
could help to embody feeling. For in- 
stance, a man's laughing might be the 
expression of pain or anger, if we had not 
learned by experience that it is otherwise. 
Green trees might be the withering ones, 
and brown trees the flourishing ones ; 



II THING HOW EXPRESSIVE ? 45 

without special experience of human bodies 
you could not know how or when their 
appearance indicates vitality or character ; 
without experience of animals you could 
not know that the drawing of the bull hunt 
indicates activity, courage, ferocity. You 
cannot read these things off from the 
patterns or the colour-combinations ; you 
have ultimately to arrive at them from the 
knowledge of facts. When you come to 
human portraiture, the reading of the 
human countenance, geometrical properties 
of lines and shapes help you not at all, or 
hardly at all. You have to rely upon 
special lessons, learned in the school of life. 

This is, I think, the difficulty as it 
presents itself. I have purposely over- 
stated it a little. 

The first thing that strikes us is that it 
is extraordinarily parallel to the difficulty 
as to how far necessary knowledge can be 
had in the sphere of natural science. You 
cannot see the chemical properties of 
substances in them, as you can see the 
properties of circles or triangles ; you 



46 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

cannot ultimately establish even the law 
of gravitation except by finding that it 
seems to explain all facts of the kind it 
applies to. But yet there is such a thing 
as natural science, and it has its degrees of 
necessity ; and some things are pretty 
fully and generally established and shed 
great clearness wherever they apply, and 
some again are mere observations for 
which no reason or general probability 
whatever can be adduced. 

Well, this is the sort of way, I suppose, 
in which we must conceive the problem of 
making representation instrumental to ex- 
pression. I see the statue of the Discobolos, 
and I see that it represents a man in act 
to hurl a disc. Now to live myself into 
this representation, I must consider what 
a man is, and I must have some knowledge 
how his body works and balances, and so 
on. I cannot read off anything at all from 
the statue merely as a pattern in marble, 
as I could if it were a marble cube or sphere. 
This is the difficulty of representation as 
I stated it. 



II PATTERN & INTERPRETATION 47 

But it was, as the comparison of natural 
science shows, a Httle overstated. Because, 
it is not a mere dead fact of my experience 
that a man's body in a certain position 
indicates a certain sort or phase of vitaHty. 
It is true that I must know something 
about a man's body before I can hve myself 
into it at all ; but when I can do so, the 
attitude of the disc-thrower's body is after 
all necessary in relation to my feeling, and 
not a bare disconnected fact. It has, to 
use my former phrase, something of a 
priori expressiveness. When you know its 
structure, its position does become in- 
evitable. It is hopeless, indeed, to reduce 
the expressiveness of representation, or of 
the contemplation of nature which raises 
the same problem, to the a priori expres- 
siveness of a pattern like a square. True, 
the appearance which is the object will, 
in principle, fail to be a satisfactory em- 
bodiment of feeling, unless it is at least 
satisfactory as a mere pattern, or a priori 
expression ; but also and additionally, in 
harmony with this satisfactoriness, it must 



48 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

be satisfactorily expressive through the 
concrete character of that which it repre- 
sents. You must interpret the Discobolos 
through your experience of human bodies ; 
and I suppose that your sense of the Hfe 
in the abstract pattern is itself actually 
amplified and intensified by this deeper 
experience. As the necessity of science 
penetrates into and extends over the 
realm of fact, so, I imagine, the expressive- 
ness of the abstract pattern penetrates, 
by experience used in the service of the 
imagination, into the realm of nature and 
man, and extends itself over and appro- 
priates ground that is primarily repre- 
sentative and gains at the same time a 
deeper significance from it. The Greek 
treatment of drapery, which is both de- 
lightful in itself as a pattern, and deeply 
expressive, e.g. of movement, is a good 
example. It should be noted that we 
exclude mere association from the ex- 
pressive connection which we demand. 
The expressiveness must be in some degree 
inherent in the form, or what I have 



11 BLACK EARTH— OF GOLD 49 

called a 'priori. Mere association brings 
us down at once to the level of knowledge 
of fact, as when my old portmanteau 
reminds me of Florence. 

And further, in the power which very 
successful representation undoubtedly exer- 
cises over our minds, there is active, I 
have no doubt, a principle which is really 
of high aesthetic value, although in en- 
hancing the importance of skilful copying 
it is misconstrued and misapplied. 

I will repeat myself so far as to give an 
example which I gave many years ago, and 
in which I admit that I take great enjoy- 
ment. It is — I am shamelessly quoting 
from myself — perhaps the earliest aesthetic 
judgment which Western literature con- 
tains. It is in the Homeric description of 
the metal-working deity's craftsmanship 
in the shield of Achilles. He has made 
upon it the representation of a deep fallow 
field with the ploughmen driving their 
furrows on it ; and the poet observes, 
" And behind the plough the earth went 
black, and looked like ploughed ground. 



50 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

though it was made of gold ; that was a 
very miracle of his craft." 

Now what was the miracle here, that 
made Homer cry out at it with delight ? It 
was not, surely, that when you have one 
bit of ploughed land you can make another 
like it. That goes on all day when a man 
ploughs a field. Or what made Dante 
say of the sculptures on the marble of 
Purgatory, that one who saw the reality 
would see no better than he did, and that 
the representation of some smoke set his 
eyes and nose at variance as to whether it 
was real ? 

Surely the miracle lies in what Homer 
accents when he says, "Though it was 
made of gold." It lies here ; that without 
the heavy matter and whole natural process 
of the reality, man's mind possesses a 
magic by which it can extract the soul of 
the actual thing or event, and confer it on 
any medium which is convenient to him, 
the wall of a cave, or a plate of gold, or a 
scrap of paper. And when these great 
poets insist on the likeness of 1;he imitation, 



II " NATURE'S CREEPING UP " 51 

I take it that the real underlying interest 
is in the conquest of the difference of the 
medium. So that really, in the naive 
praise of successful imitation, we have, if 
we read it rightly, the germ of the funda- 
mental doctrine of aesthetic semblance. 
That is to say, what matters is not the 
thing, but the appearance which you can 
carry off, and deal with apart from it, 
and recreate. And the real sting of even 
the crudest glorification of copying is this 
wonder that you can carry off with you a 
thing's soul, and leave its body behind. 
It is quite natural to misconceive this 
miracle as if the merit lay in making the 
soul as near as possible a replica of the 
body. But if you treat the soul as the 
body at its very best, that is not a bad 
analogy for the problem of representation 
in dealing with the aesthetic semblance. 
See how pregnant this praise of copying is. 
Dante, in the same passage, says that the 
carvings put to shame " not only Poly- 
cleitus, but Nature herself." It is the 
spirit of Whistler's " Nature's creeping up." 



52 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

You can copy a thing so splendidly that 
your copy will be more beautiful than the 
thing. 

Thus we are prepared to understand the 
place and value of representation, which 
has always been something of a theoretical 
difficulty in aesthetic. It introduces prima 
facie an enormously larger and deeper 
world than the world of non - representa- 
tive pattern-designing, to be the instru- 
ment of the embodiments of feeling. But 
the difficulty is that qua a mere world of 
fact, it has no capacity for a priori ex- 
pression ; and the use of it for expressive 
purposes, the imaginative use of fact, is 
therefore subject to innumerable dangers, 
arising from unaesthetic interests, which 
attach themselves to actual reality and 
therefore also to its imitative reproduction. 
Why multiply, for example, scenes and 
stories of wickedness ? Is there not enough 
of it in the world already ? If you are 
simply copying what you find, revealing in 
it no new depth or passion, the question is 
unanswerable. 



II THE NATURE WE LOVE 53 

' I promised not to be historical ; but I 
may mention it here as an extraordinary 
piece of insight on Aristotle's part, in 
which, essentially, he followed and summar- 
ised Plato, when he said that music was 
of all the arts the most imitative, meaning 
expressive, precisely on the ground that of 
all the arts it was the least representative. 
Its expression, that is to say, approached 
most nearly to what we have ventured to 
call a 'priori expressiveness. Its rhythms 
and combinations went directly to the 
heart of emotion. They are, Aristotle 
says, direct resemblances of emotions, that 
is, without making the circuit of reference 
to anything which had a name and exist- 
ence in the external world. I suppose 
this is in general the doctrine of musical 
expression accepted to-day. 

In speaking of the place of representa- 
tion in aesthetic experience, we have said 
all that is important on the aesthetic 
position of the love of natural beauty. 
For nature in its utmost range, including 
artificial things, and man as an external 



54 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

object, is just the region of all the things 
which can be objects of representative 
reproduction. The only thing that need 
be added is that by nature we mean, for 
aesthetic purposes, the fulness of the soul 
or semblance of external things, that which 
imaginative perception freely apprehends, 
and remodels in the interest of feeling. 
There is no reason to cut down our meaning 
to the attenuated constructions of physical 
science. They are not nature as it appears, 
and nature as it appears is what we love 
and admire. It is the living external 
world, as we relive it in our fullest imagina- 
tive experience. 

It is well known that this, in its fulness, 
is a point of view which takes time to 
develop. " The charm of Nature," I be- 
lieve, in the modern sense, is first men- 
tioned by an Alexandrine poet of about 
the third century a.d. " In the house you 
have rest; out-of-doors the charm of 
nature." ^ 

And as we saw, though this imaginative 

* Mackail, Select Epigrams, p. 278. 



II IMAGINATION HAS ITS TRUTH 55 

experience is not within actual reality, and 
is not to be interpreted as theoretical 
truth, yet it may make a difference to our 
general theory of things, and our theory 
may make a difference to it. And so, for 
example, representation of nature and 
imitation and idealisation are very different 
things according as we hold that nature 
has in it a life and divinity which it is 
attempting to reveal, — so that idealisation 
is the positive effort to bring to apprehen- 
sion the deeper beauty we feel to be there, 
— or as we hold that nature is at bottom 
a dead mechanical system, and idealisation 
therefore lies in some way of treating it 
which weakens or generalises its effect and 
makes it less and not more of what its 
fullest character would be. No doubt, 
theory seeking for truth does not accept 
imaginative expressions as logical con- 
clusions, but it is bound to take account of 
the fact that imagination finds in experience 
the instrument of that immense embodiment 
of feeling which it constructs. Aesthetic 
imagination and logical theory are co- 



56 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

ordinate powers. Neither can do the work 
of the other. But both reveal something 
to us in their own way. 

We have seen that what we may call 
pure or a 'priori expression is not merely 
the simplest and primary character of 
aesthetic embodiments, but recurs also 
at what is almost the climax of aesthetic 
achievement, that is, in the art of music. 
This leads us to observe how capriciously, 
as it would seem, this principle of represen- 
tation asserts itself in the hierarchy of the 
arts. In architecture it is present hardly 
at all ; in sculpture and painting it is 
predominant ; in music, it has hardly any 
place as of right, or a very subordinate one ; 
in poetry, it reasserts itself with almost 
predominant power. There seems to be in 
some degree a struggle between the two 
sides of the aesthetic attitude, the side of 
direct expression through rhythm and 
sensuous combinations, and the side which, 
though its contribution to expression is 
indirect, yet brings with it in the end the 
whole resources of the imaginable universe. 



II PATTERNS IN DRAMA 57 

As we saw, if we consider the problem 
accurately, it is impossible to dispense 
with either factor, and they have indeed 
no aesthetic existence apart. Yet the 
idea for example that in music we have 
the pure type of expressiveness, that 
towards which every art is bound to aspire, 
does appear to indicate an inherent impulse 
of the art-spirit towards a mode of utter- 
ance which is not loaded with the weight 
of representation.^ We have only to say, 
that we have attempted to display the 
necessary root of this apparent conflict, 
and to explain how the representative 
factor, while having no independent justi- 
fication, is nevertheless essential, in its 
place, to the full development of the 
aesthetic attitude. 

After all, we can relive the character 
and conflicts of man, as we express them 
for instance in the drama, with a necessity 
which not only covers a wider and deeper 
world, but which also is more unmistakable 

1 Cp. what Pater said of colour, that it is " a spirit upon 
tilings, by wliich they become expressive to the spirit." 



58 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC leot. 

and precise in its sequences, than the 
simple language of rhythm or the decora- 
tive pattern. For the mind of man is open 
to us as the extension of our own, and has 
its own necessity, which weaves its great 
patterns on the face X)f the whole world. 
And in these patterns — the patterns of life 
itself — ^the fullest feeling finds embodiment. 

If we now proceed to say something of 
what is involved in the classification of the 
arts, it is not for the sake of advocating 
any particular arrangement. Mere classi- 
fication is always an idle study, but the 
general condition and essence of the differ- 
ence between kindred things usually throws 
a searching light on their inmost nature. 

Why, then, are there different arts ? 
The simple answer to this question takes 
us, tbelieve, to the precise root and source 
of the whole principle of aesthetic expres- 
siveness, which we have already analysed 
in more general terms. 

We should begin, I am convinced, from 
the very simplest facts. Why do artists 
make different patterns, or treat the same 



XI THE JOY OF CLAY OR METAL 59 

pattern differently, in wood- carving, say, ^ ! 
and clay - modelling, and wrought - iron 
work ? If you can answer this question ; j 
thoroughly, then, I am convinced, you j 
have the secret of the classification of the \ 
arts and of the passage of feeling into its ' 
aesthetic embodiment ; that is, in a word, 
the secret of beauty. . -^ 

Why, then, in general does a worker "* 
in clay make different decorative patterns 
from a worker in wrought-iron ? I wish 
I could go into this question with illustra- 
tions and details, but I will admit at once 
that I am not really competent to do so, 
though I have taken very great interest 
in the problem. But in general there can 
surely be no doubt of the answer. You 
cannot make the same things in clay as 
you can in wrought-iron, except by a tour 
de force. The feeling of the work is, I 
suppose, altogether different. The metal 
challenges you, coaxes you, as William 
Morris said of the molten glass, to do a 
particular kind of thing with it, where its 
tenacity and ductility make themselves 



60 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

felt. The clay, again, is delightful, I take 
it, to handle, to those who have a talent 
for it ; but it is delightful of course in quite 
different manipulations from those of the 
wrought - iron. I suppose its facility of 
surface, how it lends itself to modelling or 
to throwing on the wheel, must be its 
great charm. Now the decorative patterns 
which are carried out in one or the other 
may, of course, be suggested ab extra by a 
draughtsman, and have all sorts of pro- 
perties and interests in themselves as mere 
lines on paper. But when you come to 
carry them out in the medium, then, if 
they are appropriate, or if you succeed in 
adapting them, they become each a special 
phase of the embodiment of your whole 
delight and interest of " body-and-mind " 
in handling the clay or metal or wood or 
molten glass. It is alive in your hands, 
and its life grows or rather magically 
springs into shapes which it, and you in 
I it, seem to desire and feel inevitable. The 
feeling for the medium, the sense of what 
can rightly be done in it only or better than 



\i 



LIFE AND HANDICRAFT 61 

in anything else, and the charm and 
fascination of doing it so — these, I take 
it, are the real clue to the fundamental 
question of aesthetics, which is " how 
feeling and its body are created adequate 
to one another." It is parallel to the 
question in general philosophy, " Why the 
soul has a body^" It is the same sort of 
thing as the theory of the rising mountain, 
but it is much less open to caprice, being 
absolute fact all through, and it explains 
not merely the interpretation of lines and 
shapes, but the whole range and working 
of the aesthetic imagination in the province 
of fine art, which is its special province. 

To this doctrine belongs the very fruitful 
modern topic of the relation of beautiful 
handicraft with the workman's life, as the 
outcome and expression of his body-and- 
mind, and amid all the disparagement 
which the most recent views of art are apt 
to throw upon Ruskin, we must remember 
that it was first and foremost to his inspired 
advocacy that this point of view owes its 
recognition to-day, and William Morris, 



62 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

for instance, recognised him, in this respect 
at least, as his master. 

The differences of the great arts -then 
are simply such differences as those between 
clay-modelling, wood-carving, and wrought- 
iron work, developed on an enormous scale, 
and with their inevitable consequences for 
whole provinces of aesthetic imagination. 

For this is a fact of the highest import- 
ance. Every craftsman, we saw, feels the 
peculiar delight and enjoys the peculiar 
capacity of his own medium. This delight 
and sense of capacity are of course not 
confined to the moments when he is 
actually manipulating his work. His 
fascinated imagination lives in the powers 
of his medium ; he thinks and feels in 
terms of it ; it is the peculiar body of 
which his aesthetic imagination and no 
other is the peculiar soul. 

Thus there grow up the distinct tradi- 
tions, the whole distinctive worlds of 
imaginative thought and feeling, in which 
the great imaginative arts have their life 
and being. 



11 IDEAL IN THE MEDIUM 63 

And this leads to the important question, 
what is meant by the ideal in art. The 
essential point is, as we saw when speaking 
of the idealisation of nature, that the ideal 
should not be a tendency which is nega- 
tively related to the fullest aesthetic expres- 
sion. The ideal has often indicated a 
generalisation and abstraction, ultimately 
depending on the notion that to get at 
the root and law of things is to get at 
a generalised common element in which 
they resemble one another. But we saw 
that if it means anything in application to 
nature, it means the heightened expression 
of character and individuality which come 
of a faith in the life and divinity with which 
the external world is instinct and inspired. 

This same conception of the ideal is 
the lesson of our doctrine of art. The 
ideal of every art must be revealed, I take 
it, in terms of the art itself ; and it must 
be what underlies the whole series of 
efforts which the artist's imagination has 
made and is making, to create, in his own 
medium, an embodied feeling in which he 



64 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

can rest satisfied. It is the world as he 
has access to it through his art. It may 
seem to him more than any of his works ; 
but it only has existence in them and in 
the effort which they imply when taken 
all together. The danger is to try and 
make a picture of this effort, apart from 
any of its achievements, which is really 
nothing. Then you get the enfeebled 
ideal, which means the omission of all 
character and individuality. 

Now let us take a particular case. If 
our view of the distinction and connection 
of the arts is right, and it is simply a ques- 
tion of the medium adopted by each, and 
the capacities of that medium as proved 
by experience, what is to be said of the 
distinctive character of 'poetry ? It seems 
in a sense to have almost no material 
element, to work directly with significant 
ideas in which the objects of the imagina- 
tion are conveyed. Language is so trans- 
parent, that it disappears, so to speak, into 
its own meaning, and we are left with no 
characteristic medium at all. 



I, THE POET'S MEDIUM 65 

I do not think there can be any doubt 
about the true attitude here. Poetry, 
Hke the other arts, has a physical or at 
least a sensuous medium, and this medium 
is sound. It is, however, significant sound, 
uniting inseparably in itself the factors 
of formal expression through an immediate 
pattern, and of representation through 
the meanings of language, exactly as 
sculpture and painting deal at once and 
in the same vision both with formal 
patterns and with significant shapes. That 
language is a physical fact with its own 
properties and qualities is easily seen by 
comparing different tongues, and noting 
the form which different patterns, such 
as sapphic or hexameter verse, necessarily 
receive in different languages, such as 
Greek and Latin. To make poetry in 
different languages, e.g. in French and 
German, is as different a task as to make 
decorative work in clay and iron. The 
sound metre and meaning are the same 
inseparable product in a poem as much as 
the colour, form, and embodied feeling in a 




66 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

picture. And it is only an illusion to suppose 
that because you have significant sentences 
in poetry, therefore you are dealing with 
meanings which remain the same outside 
the poem, any more than a tree or a person 
whom you think you recognise in a picture, 
is, as you know them at home so to speak, 
the tree or the person of the picture. Poetry 
no more keeps its meaning when turned 
into corresponding prose, than a picture 
or a sonata keeps its meaning in the little 
analyses they print in the catalogues or 
programmes. 

Shelley, according to Professor Bradley, 
had a feeling of the kind referred to. 
Poetry seemed to him to deal with a 
perfectly apt and transparent medium, 
with no qualities of its own, and therefore 
approaching to being no medium at all, 
but created out of nothing by the imagina- 
tion for the use of the imagination. While 
the media employed by the other arts, 
being gross and physical and having in- 
dependent qualities of their own, seemed 
to him rather obstacles in the way of 



u BEAUTY NOT " INWARD " 67 

expression than apt instruments of it. 
The answer to such a view is what we have 
just given. 

It is the qualities of the media which 
give them the capacity to serve as embodi- 
ments of feehng ; and sonorous language, 
the medium of poetry, has its peculiarities 
and definite capacities precisely like the 
others. 

Here, I cannot but think, we are obliged 
to part company, with some regret, from 
Benedetto Croce. He is possessed, as so 
often is the case with him, by a funda- 
mental truth, so intensely that he seems 
incapable of apprehending what more is 
absolutely necessary to its realisation. 
Beauty, he sees, is for the mind and in the 
mind. A physical thing, supposed un- 
perceived and unfelt, cannot be said in the 
full sense to possess beauty. But he for- 
gets throughout, I must think, that though 
feeling is necessary to its embodiment, yet 
also the embodiment is necessary to feel- 
ing. To say that because beauty implies a 
mind, therefore it is an internal state, and 



I 68 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

I 

§ its physical embodiment is something 

I secondary and incidental, and merely 
I brought into being for the sake of perman- 
ence and communication — ^this seems to 
me a profound error of principle, a false 
idealism.^ It meets us, however, through- 
out Croce's system, according to which 
" intuition " — the inward vision of the 
artist — is the only true expression. Ex- 
ternal media, he holds, are, strictly speaking, 
superfluous, so that there is no meaning 
in distinguishing between one mode of 
expression and another (as between paint 
and musical sound and language). There- 
fore there can be no classification of the 
arts, and no fruitful discussion of what can 
better be done by one art than by another. 
And aesthetic — the philosophy of expres- 
sion — is set down as all one with linguistic 
— the philosophy of speech. For there 
is no meaning in distinguishing between 
language in the sense of speech, and other 
modes of expression. Of course, if he 
had said that speech is not the only form 
of language, but that every art speaks to 



n A BODILESS MEDIUM ? 69 

us in a language of its own, that would 
have had much to be said for it. But I 
do not gather that that is his intention. 

His notion is not a new one among 
theorists. It really is deeply rooted in 
a philosophical blunder. No doubt it 
seems obvious, when once pointed out, 
that things are not all there, not complete 
in all qualities, except when they are 
appreciated in a mind. And then, having 
rightly observed that this is so, we are apt 
to go on and say that you have them 
complete, and have all you want of them, 
if you have them before your mind and 
have not the things in bodily presence at 
all. But the blunder is, to think that you 
can have them completely before your 
mind without having their bodily presence 
at all. And because of this blunder, it 
seems fine and " ideal " to say that the 
artist operates in the bodiless medium of 
pure thought or fancy, and that the 
things of the bodily world are merely 
physical causes of sensation, which do not 
themselves enter into the effects he uses. 



70 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

It is rather a natural thing to say about 
poetry, because we discount the physical 
side of language. We glance at its words 
and do not sound them. And Shelley, as 
we saw, says something very like that. 

But at the very beginning of all this 
notion, as we said, there is a blunder. 
Things, it is true, are not complete without 
minds, but minds, again, are not complete 
without things ; not any more, we might 
say, than minds are complete without 
bodies. Our resources in the way of 
sensation, and our experiences in the way 
of satisfactory and unsatisfactory feeling, 
are all of them won out of our intercourse 
with things, and are thought and imagined 
by us as qualities and properties of the 
things. Especially we see this in music. 
Here we have an art entirely made up of a 
material — musical tone — which one may 
say does not exist at all in the natural 
world, and is altogether originated by our 
inventive and imaginative manipulation of 
physical things, pressing on in the line of 
creative discovery which something very 



11 ART SHAPES ITS MEDIUM 71 

like accident must at first have opened up 
to us.^ Apart from this imaginative opera- 
tion upon physical things, our fancy in the 
realm of music could have done as good as 
nothing. 

And in principle it is the same with all 
the arts. All the material and the physical 
process which the artist uses — take our 
English language as used in poetry for 
an example — has been elaborated and re- 
fined, and, so to speak, consecrated by ages 
of adaptation and application in which it 
has been fused and blended with feeling — 
and it carries the life-blood of all this 
endeavour in its veins ; and that is how, 
as we have said over and over again, 
feelings get their embodiment, and embodi- 
ments get their feeling. If you try to cut 
the thought and fancy loose from the 
body of the stuff in which it moulds its 
pictures and poetic ideas and musical 
constructions, you impoverish your fancy, 
and arrest its growth, and reduce it to a 
bloodless shade. When I pronounce even 

^ This applies even to the development of song, so fur as 
that involves a musical system. 



72 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

a phrase so commonplace in itself as " Rule, 
Britannia ! " the actual vibrations of the 
sound, the bodily experience I am aware 
of in saying it, is alive with the history of 
England which passed into the words in 
the usage and formation of the language. 
Up to a certain point, language is poetry 
ready-made for us. 

And I suppose that a great painter, in 
his actual handling of his brush, has present 
with him a sense of meaning and fitness 
which is one with the joy of execution, 
both of which the experience of a lifetime 
has engrained in the co-operation of his 
hand and eye. I take it, there is a pleasure 
in the brush stroke, which is also a sense 
of success in the use of the medium, and 
of meaning in hitting the exact effect which 
he wants to get. We common people have 
something analogous to all this, when we 
enjoy the too - rare sensation of having 
found the right word. In such " finding " 
there is a creative element. A word is, 
quite strictly speaking, not used twice in 
the same sense. 



II SOUL MUST HAVE A BODY 73 

Croce says, indeed, that the artist has 
every stroke of the brush in his mind as 
complete before he executes it as after. 
The suggestion is that using the brush adds 
nothing to his inward or mental work of 
art. I think that this is false idealism. 
The bodily thing adds immensely to the 
mere idea and fancy, in wealth of qualities 
and connections. If we try to cut out the 
bodily side of our world, we shall find that 
we have reduced the mental side to a mere 
nothing. 

And so, when we said that you can 
carry away the soul of a thing and leave 
its body behind, we always added that you 
must in doing so confer its soul upon a new* 
and spiritualised body. Your imagination 
must be an imagination of something, and 
if you refuse to give that something a 
definite structure, you pass from the 
aesthetic semblance to the region of ab- 
stract thought. I have spoken of sound 
as physical ; if this is a difficulty it is 
enough to call it sensuous, and sensuous in 
immediate connection with other physical 



V 



74 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

properties and experiences. This applies 
both to music and to language. 

All this later argument of ours, starting 
from the importance of medium and tech- 
nique, has aimed at exhibiting in detail the 
double process of creation and contempla- 
tion which is implied in the aesthetic 
attitude, and the impossibility of separat- 
ing one factor of it from another. And it 
is the same question as that stated in other 
words, how a feeling can be got into an 
object. This is the central problem of the 
aesthetic attitude; and, as we have seen, 
the best material for solving it for us who 
are not great artists comes from any minor 
experience we may have at command in 
which we have been aware of the outgoing 
of feeling into expression. We must think 
not merely of the picture in the gallery or 
the statue in the museum, but of the song 
and the dance, the dramatic reading, the 
entering into music, or the feel of the 
material in the minor arts, or simply, of 
the creative discovery of the right word. 

The festal or social view of art will 



SOMETHING BIG 75 

help us here. Suppose a tribe or a nation 
has won a great victory ; " they are 
feeling big, and they want to make 
something big," as I have heard an 
expert say. That, I take it, is the rough 
account of the beginning of the aesthetic 
attitude. And according to their capacity 
and their stage of culture they may make 
a pile of their enemies' skulls, or they may 
build the Parthenon. The point of the 
aesthetic attitude lies in the adequate 
fusion of body and soul, where the soul is 
a feeling, and the body its expression, 
without residue on either side. 



Ill 



FORMS OF AESTHETIC SATISFACTION- 
BEAUTY AND UGLINESS 

It seems to me that a few words of preface 
to this lecture may be opportune, both to 
explain our attitude to the question of 
com.petence, in a region which prima facie 
demands something of special insight, and 
also to prepare ourselves for the general 
line which we shall adopt ; and it is this 
general line alone for which I can venture 
to claim attention and sympathy. It is 
nothing very new, unless in a certain 
thorough consistency ; but I think it is 
important, and foUows^ from and sums up 
our preceding argument, and solves many 
difficulties. 

I will therefore say a word of preface 
about the education in beauty of the 

76 



LEOTiii RETURN FROM FAIRYLAND 77 

ordinary person who has grown up through 
the late nineteenth century to the present 
time, and its relation to certain quite 
recent movements. And I think it applies 
in some degree to the ordinary person at 
all times. The moderation of my claim is 
at one I hope with its logic. I am not 
saying that the record of such a person's 
experience in the beautiful justifies him 
for a moment in becoming dogmatic about 
problems of beauty. What has rather 
forced itself on me is that the ordinary 
person's laborious experience and self- 
education, if broad and sincere, brings 
him to much the same positions which 
highly gifted individuals adopt spontane- 
ously from the beginning. 

I suggest, then, that the training in 
beauty which comes to the ordinary mind, 
like that which a man may have picked up 
for himself during the last half century, is 
apt to begin in a golden fairyland. There 
is a verse in the Poets of Our Day, 
which expresses the sort of transition 
which I have in mind ; its beginning in 



78 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

the first three Hnes, and its close in the 
fourth : 

Apes and ivory, skulls and roses, in junks of old 

Hong Kong, 
Gliding over a sea of dreams to a haunted shore of 

song; 
Masts of gold and sails of satin, shimmering out of 

the east. 
Oh, Love has little need of you now to make his heart 

a feast. 

Beauty, fancy, the poetical imagination, 
seemed, I take it, to one as a boy to be 
something remote, and the general feeling 
sustained the belief. A very striking ex- 
ample was the approving misconception, 
almost universal, I think, in the last century, 
of Wordsworth's great lines : 

The light that never was on sea or land ; 
The consecration and the poet's dream. 

The whole moral of this poem is indeed 
very much to my point. 

In the middle nineteenth century we had 
with us the relics of romance — for example, 
the sentimental German ballads, really a 
weak imitation of our own genuine ballads 



THE DREGS OF ROMANCE 79 

— Goethe's and Heine's songs stand out- 
side this class ; we had Southey's queer 
oriental fantasies ; I remember at Harrow 
having to make a copy of verses on the 
"Curse of Kehama," which shows that we 
were expected to be familiar with the 
story. We had Walter Scott's ''Spirit of 
the Flood and the Fell," the romantic set- 
ting of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, and the 
more fantastic part of Shelley, and the 
religious fancies and fairy scenes of Sir 
Noel Paton, and even Paradise Lost came 
to be like this, when construed as a child's 
Sunday reading. 

And when you were brought to Shake- 
speare you approached him perhaps through 
the purple patches, the cloud-capt towers, 
or Cleopatra on her barge ; and if you 
looked at the Royal Academy you went 
through a phantasmagoria of remote in- 
cidents and pathetic scenes, and you 
wanted to be told what they were about. 

Of course the real thing was well in 
reach all this time ; there was The Golden 
Treasury, with access to the Elizabethan 



80 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

lyrics, and there was Keats and The Ancient 
Mariner ; and Walter Scott's novels, and 
the great artists of older days. But these 
latter, without some sort of guidance, 
might seem capricious and fantastic. I 
think the impression was that beauty was 
something exotic, and that poetic imagina- 
tion meant fancying very quaint and fine 
out-of-the-way things. One enjoyed things 
nearer home and more genuine ; but per- 
haps one did not know that they were to 
be called beauty, or that they demanded 
imagination. 

A great revelation came probably to 
many individuals with three influences : 
Ruskin, with his Turner interpretation and 
with the theory of beauty as the expression 
of the workman's life ; the rapprochement 
of Greek and modern drama through 
the profounder interpretation of Euripides, 
beginning from Browning and going on to 
Professor G. Murray ; and oddly enough, the 
Pre-Raphaelite movement in English paint- 
ing, which brought, like Walter Scott and 
William Morris, the end of the romantic 



Ill IMPRESSIONISM AND AFTER 81 

impulse into connection with what I should 
call the rising impulse of plain humanistic 
and humoristic vision. No doubt the Pre- 
Raphaelites had all sorts of romantic 
properties, but it was certainly from Burne- 
Jones that some of us learned what an old 
brick wall really looked like — and, of 
course, at bottom, romanticism and natur- 
alism are one in Symbolism. ^ So we felt, 
when we got really to grips with Shake- 
speare, and saw one and the same tremend- 
ous poetic imagination creating Titania 
and penetrating Bottom the weaver, and 
ranging Falstaff over against Hamlet. 

Later developments in pictorial art 
have been very remarkable ; one regrets 
to see that William Morris took up his 
parable against Impressionism in the Arts 
and Crafts Essays ; but the word may 
mean so many things that one must not 
insist too much on this. Taken in the 
sense of Stevenson's Velasquez it seems a 
revelation. And following the education 

1 By Symbolism I mean no esoteric doctrine, but tlie 
recognition of spiritual unity throughout appearances. 

G 



82 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lkct. 

of our ordinary person, we find, I should 
say, that the recent movements in pictorial 
art have at least included phases which 
have enabled him to see the world with a 
larger and more penetrating imagination. 
Whatever endows him with a new gift of 
sight, he must suppose, I think, to be a 
gain. And the rapprochement between 
Greek and modern art and drama has 
immensely advanced of late, through the 
whole movement towards simplification of 
stage accompaniments and of dramatic 
structure. We are enabled to see and feel 
Greek art as straightforwardly human, 
sharing in the direct and passionate ex- 
pression which we also find at our own 
doors. It is a great lesson to have learned 
that all good art is one. The recent re- 
velations from China and Japan have, of 
course, borne strongly in this direction. 

Thus I suggest that the ordinary man's 
education in the beautiful, since, say, the 
'sixties, has been on the whole a home- 
coming from fairyland to simple vision and 
humanity. And of course he will keep his 



TWO SENSES OF BEAUTY 83 

fairyland, and that much more apprecia- 
tively, when his imagination is trained to 
bring it into his home. We may think 
of Mr. Rackham's designs for the Mid- 
summer Nighfs Dream. In all this he has 
only learned what to those with the gift 
of imaginative vision has throughout been 
clear. It is the coincidence of the two 
frames of mind, so differently acquired, 
one by laborious discipline, the other by 
natural insight, which seems to be both 
interesting and convincing. 

Now this preface bears on the problem 
of the narrower and larger meaning of \^ 
beauty, and further on the very difficult 
problem of beauty and ugliness. 

There must be, so long as ordinary 
persons continue to exist, a narrower and 
a wider meaning of beauty, and it has a 
certain justification in the kinds of beauty. 

i. There must be a general word for 
what we consider aesthetically excellent, i , 
If there is to be any reason in things at all, I \ 
this, the aesthetically excellent, must have \ \ \^ 
a common property and common rationale, | 



^^^ 



84 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

and the only word we can find for this 
property is the word " beautiful." And, 
as we shall see, the degrees of its usage, its 
variations, make it impossible finally to 
draw a line between what is beautiful and 
what is not anywhere within this wide 
range of the aesthetically excellent. I 
i mean, then, that this wide use of the word, 
\ " beautiful," is in the end the right use. 
ii. But again, while ordinary people 
survive, we shall want a word for what 
is 'prima facie aesthetically pleasant ; or 
pleasant to the ordinary sensibility ; and 
? for this we shall never get the common use 
of language to abandon the word " beauti- 
ful." We shall always find opposition if 
we say even that the sublime is a form of 
the beautiful, and when we come to the 
stern and terrible and grotesque and 
\ ^ humorous, if we call them beautiful we 
I shall, as a rule, be in conflict with usage. 
I And I take it there is a real specific differ- 
I ence between a beautiful and the sublime, 
\for instance. 

So then, we may say that beauty in the 



Ill EASY & TRIUMPHANT BEAUTY 85 

wider sense, which is also the more correct 
sense, and the sense come to by education, 
and that preferred I think by persons en- 
dowed with much aesthetic insight — beauty 
in this wider sense is the same as what is 
aesthetically excellent. But by a justified 
usage, this wider sense of beauty which 
equals aesthetically excellent must be taken^^-ft'^ 
as containing two classes, that of easy / \ | 
beauty and that of difficult beauty, includ- 
ing the sublime, etc., respectively. 

1. It is dangerous perhaps to give ex- 
amples, which may offend some one's con- 
victions, butt the character of easy or facile 
beauty is, I think, readily recognisable. 
It coincides with that which, on grounds 
which cannot be pronounced unaesthetic, 
is prima facie pleasant to practically every 
one. A simple tune ; a simple spatial 
rhythm, like that of the tiles in one's fire- 
place ; a rose ; a youthful face, or the human 
form in its prime, all these afford a plain / 
straightforward pleasure to the ordinary ( 
" body -and -mind." There is no use in*^/ 
lengthening the list. -■ 



86 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

Now here there is an interesting and 
important observation to be met. Surely, 
it may be urged against our distinction, 
the very greatest achievements of all in 
art, and the very most beautiful and 
splendid things in nature, appeal to every- 
body, ordinary people and others, so that 
we must not set down the universality of 
appeal in beautiful things as a character 
which implies a trivial or superficial char- 
acter in them. That is to say, it seems as 
if some easy beauty were yet beauty of the 
highest type. 

In answer to this, I incline to think we 
ought to distinguish between the easier 
types of beauty and what might be called 
simple victorious or triumphant beauty ; 
between the Venus dei Medici and the 
Venus of Milo ; between the opening of 
Marmion and the first chorus of the 
Agamemnon. I take it that very great 
works of art often possess simple aspects 
which have a very wide appeal, partly for 
good reasons, partly also for less good ones. 
We shall see a good reason below. 



Ill BEAUTY WHICH REPELS 87 

Thus, I do not think that the existence 
of triumphant beauty disproves the fact 
that there is a class of easy beauty. 

I beheve, therefore, that we cannot 
dispense with the distinction between the 
easier and the more difficult beauty. I 
will pass at once to the latter in order to 
explain more precisely by contrast what I 
have in mind. .^..^ 

2. The difficulty, amounting for some j\ 
persons to repellence, which belongs to such j j 
beauty as makes the rarer appeal, may take j 
different forms. I suggest three. I do I 
not say that they cover all the cases. I I 
will call them : (a) Intricacy ; {^) Tension ; / 
(y) Width. ^ -^ 

(a) The case of intricacy is very in- ^ 
structive, because in it you can often show -* 
to demonstration that the more difficult 
aesthetic object has all that the simpler ; 
has, and more. You could show this in 
many conventional patterns, ^.^. in the 
case of the common volutes which are so 
often found separate, and which are also 
combined with the palmetto pattern in 



88 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC iect. 

the design from the ceiUng of the treasury 
at Orchomenus. And I presume that you 
can show the same thing very completely 
in music, where the failure of appreciation 
is often simply the inability to follow a 
construction which possesses intricacy be- 
yond a certain degree. And, no doubt, 
there is apt to be a positive revulsion 
against a difficulty which we cannot solve. 
It is very noticeable in aesthetic education 
how the appreciation of what is too in- 
tricate for us begins with isolated bits, 
which introduce us to the pervading beauti- 
ful quality of the texture we are trying to 
apprehend — a lovely face in an old Italian 
picture, before we are ready to grasp its 
" music of spaces " ; a magnificent couplet 
in SordellOf which has been said to contain 
the finest isolated distichs in the English 
language ; or a simple melody in a great 
t^ l^ymphony. When it is demonstrated to 
\ one that the texture at every point is 
• exquisitely beautiful, as is always the case 
in the works which furnish the higher and 
rarer test of appreciation— we may think 



Ill RESENTMENT AT THE AUSTERE 89 

of Dante's Inferno — it is easier to believe 
that one's failure to grasp the whole is 
simply a defect in one's capacity of atten- 
tion. And the progress of one's education 
confirms this suggestion. The difficult 
beauty simply gives you too much, at one 
moment, of what you are perfectly pre- 
pared to enjoy if only you could take it 
all in. 

(/8) The same thing is true with the high i 
tension of feeling. Aristotle speaks, in a )': 
most suggestive phrase, of the " weakness i ' 
of the spectators," which shrinks from the 
essence of tragedy. In other words, the 
capacity to endure and enjoy feeling at j 
high tension is somewhat rare. The prin- 
ciple is the same as that of intricacy, but '; 
it is a different case. Such feeling may be \ 
embodied in structures, e.g. in words, I 
which look very simple. But yet it de- I 

- i' 

mands profound effort and concentration / 
to apprehend them. 

An exception, within the area of this 
particular case, may afford an excellent 
example of what I called triumphant 



90 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

beauty — beauty which, although of the 
most distinguished quaUty, is universal 
in its appeal, I mean when a passage of 
feeling at high tension, simply and directly 
expressed, has the mixture of luck and 
merit which makes it strike on some great 
nerve of humanity, and thus conquer the 
suffrages of the world. Great artists, from 
Plato to Balzac, have laid stress on this 
possibility, and Balzac at least was not 
the man needlessly to admit anything in 
derogation of the pure prerogative of art. 
I have never found the man or woman to 
whom the Demeter of Knidos failed to 
appeal, and it surely cannot be set down 
as facile beauty in the depreciatory sense. 
But, in general, one may say that the 
common mind — and all our minds are 
common at times — resents any great effort 
or concentration, and for the same reason 
resents the simple and severe forms which 
are often the only fitting embodiment of 
such a concentration — forms which pro- 
mise, as Pater says, a great expressiveness, 
but only on condition of being received 



Ill THE MORE OF BEAUTY 91 

with a great attentiveness. v\ The kind of 
effort required is not exactly an intellectual ; 
effort ; it is something more, it is an 
imaginative effort, that is to say, as we K 
saw, one in which the body-and-mind, t 
without resting upon a fixed system like f 
that of accepted conventional knowledge 
has to frame for itself as a whole an ex 
perience in which it can "live" the em 
bodiment before it. When King John says 
to Hubert the single word " death," the 
word is, in a sense, easily apprehended ; 
but the state of the whole man behind the 
broken utterance may take some complete 
transformation of mental attitude to enter 
into. And such a transformation may not 
be at all easy or comfortable ; it may be 
even terrible, so that in Aristotle's phrase 
the weakness of the spectator shrinks from 
it. And this is very apt to apply, on one 
ground or another, to all great art, or in- 
deed to all that is great of any kind. 
There is no doubt a resentment against 
what IS great, if we cannot rise to it. I am V 
trying to elucidate the point that in all this 5 

•A 




92 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

i difficult beauty, which goes beyond what 
is comfortable for the indolent or timid 
:mind, there is nothing but a " more " of 
,the same beautiful, which we find prima 
ifacie pleasant, changed only by being in- 
itensified. But this is enough to prevent 
( fus from recognising it as beauty, except 
i-by self-education or a natural insight. 

-(7) I suggested yet another dimension 
ol the more difficult beauty, under the 
name of " width." 

It is a remarkable and rather startling 
fact that there are genuine lovers of beauty, 
well equipped in scholarship, who cannot 
really enjoy Aristophanes, or Rabelais, or 
the Falstaff scenes of Shakespeare. This 
is again, I venture to think, a " weakness 
of the spectator." In strong humour or 
comedy you have to endure a sort of dis- 
solution of the conventional world. All 
the serious accepted things are shown you 
i topsy-turvy ; beauty, in the narrow and 
i current sense, among them. The comic 
spirit enjoys itself at the expense of every- 
thing ; the gods are starved out and 



COMEDY AS A " MORE " 93 

brought to terms by the birds' command 

of the air, cutting off the vapour of sacrifice 

on which they Uved ; Titania falls in love 

with Bottom the weaver ; Falstaff makes 

a fool of the Lord Chief Justice of England. 

/ All this demands a peculiar strength to 

/ encompass with sympathy its whole width. 

j You must feel a liberation in it all ; it is 

J partly like a holiday in the mountains or 

I: a voyage at sea ; the customary scale of 

t everything is changed, and you yourself 

k perhaps are revealed to yourself as a trifling 

/ ^-^iosect or a moral prig. 

And it is to be noted, that you need \ 
strength to cover all this width without 
V losing hold of the centre. If you wholly 
ibst the normal view of all these things 
which you are to see upside down, the 
comedy would all be killed dead at once. 
It is the contrast that makes the humour. 
If religion is not a serious thing to you, there 
is no fun in joking about it. 

In this region, that of humour, ex- 
pression is I think inevitably very complex, 
as is the feeling it embodies. It is a sort 



94 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

of counter-expression — the normal, all of 
it, plus a further point of view, caricatured, 
charge^ loaded or burdened with an ab- 
normal emphasis. 
, Thus, here again, you have the more, 
. as compared with the normal experience of 
I the beautiful ; you have a wide range of 
forms, all of them distinguished by an 
attitude taken up towards the conventional 
I attitude. And this demands both a com- 
i plexity of expression and a complexity of 
1 mood, departing widely from the lines of 
\\ the ordinary moods of serious life, and even 
V-4of serious aesthetic experience. ; Comedy 
always shocks many people. 

So much for difficult beauty. Now the 
object of thus insisting on these two grades 
of beauty was twofold. 

First, to defend, as not merely con- 
venient but right, the extension of the 
term beauty to all that is aesthetically 
excellent. For the insight of gifted persons 
regards it all as one ; and the recognition 
of the same nature in it throughout in 
consequence of sincere self-education is a 



Ill WHERE IS REAL UGLINESS ? 95 

question of more and less in the way of 
attentiveness and imaginative effort. There 
is no constant hne to be drawn between 
easy and difficult beauty. And I think 
we must all have noticed that the gift of 
aesthetic appreciativeness has more to do 
with sincerity of character than with in- 
tellectual capacity. In the appreciation 
of great things, so much depends on 
teachableness, and the absence of self- 
absorption and the yearning to criticise. 

And, secondly, it was to prepare us to 
approach the fundamental problem of 
what we mean by real ugliness. For this 
account of the degrees and areas of beauty 
nibbles away to some extent the current 
antithesis of beauty and ugliness. 

Intricacy, tension, and width account 
for a very large proportion of so-called , 
ugliness, that is to say, of what shocks 'i 
most people, or else seems to them re- h 
pellently uninteresting, or overstrained, or 
fantastic. All this part of ugliness then 
seems due to the weakness of the spectator, 
whether his object is nature or art. Note 



96 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

how slowly, e.g., the beauty of old age, I 
mean of real wrinkled old age, not stately 
and splendid old age, gains recognition in 
sculpture ; I think not before the Alex- 
andrine period. 

Before going further, it will be best to 
return upon one fundamental point and 
make it quite clear. We started in the 
first lecture by describing the aesthetic 
attitude as involving a pleasant feeling of 
such and such a kind. But we have now 
seen that the pleasant feeling which is one 
with the appreciation of beauty is not a 
previous condition of beauty. It is not 
on some other ground a pleasure, and then 
by being expressed becomes beautiful. It 
is a pleasantness not antecedent to the 
appreciation of beauty, but arising in 
and because of it, in the freedom or ex- 
pansion which the mind enjoys in and 
through the act which gives or finds 
adequate embodiment for its feeling, and 
so makes the feeling what it is. Therefore, 
T^you must not say pleasantness is a con- 
V dition precedent of beauty ; rather, beauty 



PARADOX OF UGLINESS 97 

is a condition precedent of pleasantness. 
Beauty is essentially enjoyed ; it lives in 
enjoyment of a certain kind. But you \ 
cannot make it up out of enjoyments of \ 
any other kind. ^ 

Now about true ugliness. This must ' 
mean, if it means anything, invincible / 
ugliness, such as no sane imagination can 
see as beauty. It must be quite a different 
thing from difficult beauty. 

About this question of true ugliness 
there is a general paradox, which applies 
also to the kindred questions of error 
and moral evil. I will state it first in 
general language, for the sake of its philo- 
sophical interest. 

Beauty is feeling become plastic. Now 
a thing which conflicts with beauty, which 
produces an effect contrasted with its j 
effect — what we call ugliness — must itself L 
be either plastic ( = expressive) or not. \<j 

If it is not plastic, i.e. has no expressive 
form by which it embodies anything, then, 
for aesthetic purposes, it is nothing. But 
if it is plastic, i.e. if it has expressive form, 



98 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

'and therefore embodies a feeling, then it 
itself falls within the general definition of 
the beautiful as = what is aesthetically 
excellent. '^ 

'^ You might be tempted to rejoin — ah, 
but the ugly expresses only something un- 
pleasant. But we have seen why this 
will not help us. If an object comes 
within the definition of beauty, then 
(supposing the definition is right) its being 
unpleasant to us would merely be due to 
our weakness and want of education, and 
it would come within the limits of difficult 
beauty. 

So we go back to the paradox ; if it 
has no expressive form, it is nothing for 
aesthetic. If it has one, it belongs to the 
beautiful. This is no quibble. It is a 
fundamental difficulty about beauty and 
truth and goodness ; it comes when you 
try to set up an opposite to anything 
which depends on being complete. Try 
love and hate. Hate is to be the opposite 
of love ; well, what do you hate and why ? 
What is your hate directed upon ? It 



Ill FORM OF FORMLESSNESS ? 99 

cannot be aimed at nothing. It must be 
directed upon something definite and hold 
together for some reason, and this reason 
must be the nature of something which 
outrages you in some way, violates your 
purposes and likings. So when you fill it 
all in and see it in full with what it aims 
at, your hate has turned to some sort of 
love ; it is a positive passion for something 
which something else obstructs. There is 
the same paradox with error. 

Thus, you can hardly say that what is 
ugly is fully expressive of anything. For 
if it were so, it would become ipso facto a 
kind of beauty. And, if you maintain 
this, you withdraw wholly within the ' 
doctrine of the " weakness of the spec- i 
tator," and you say in effect that there is ' 
no such thing as invincible ugliness. I 
am much inclined to such a view ; but there 
is more to be considered. -■''''' 

For, take the case of mere apparent 
ugliness itself, such as is due to our weak- 
ness of attention or imagination. It seems 
to be a positive aesthetic effect, and one 



100 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

which must be accounted for as much as if 
it were fundamental and invincible. When 
we judge an appearance as ugly, even if 
ultimately we are wrong, what is it that 
we mean to indicate ? 

One might say, an appearance is ugly 
which has indeed, as everything must have, 
a form and a self - expression in a sense, 
but a form such as to convey an impression 
of formlessness. The German " Unform " is 
suggestive at this point. Primarily mean- 
ing " formlessness," it may also convey the 
implication of ugliness. We can show the 
same usage, in saying, for example, " That 
is a hideous hat, it is perfectly formless." 
But, prima facie, this can only mean that 
a thing has not the kind of form we expect. 
Or even if there could be an expression of 
unexpressiveness, you would, in one sense, 
have in it the very highest achievements 
of the sublime and the humorous. For 
the sublime, take the famous passage in 
Job, or Milton's description of death. These 
present to your imagination something 
whose aesthetic embodiment is that it is 



Ill CONTRADICTORY FORMS ? 101 

too awful to be actually apprehended in 
a shape. Or, in the region of humour ; 
it is only too easy to tell a story without a 
point ; but it is a very clever and difficult 
thing to tell a story whose point is that 
it has no point. Ugliness cannot be merely 
the expression of what will not go 
into definite form. Even in the revulsion 
against difficult beauty, it has a positive 
quality of discordancy, though perhaps 
one which we ought to be able to over- 
come. 

We must try again. One might think 
of a combination of beautiful expressions 
which should contradict each other so 
that the whole should be ugly, i.e. incapable 
as a whole of embodying any single feeling ; 
though the parts were beautiful. This 
would be in one sense inexpressive, i.e. a 
conflict or discord of expressions. And 
this error might be multiplied ; there 
might be an aggregate of beautiful parts 
which refused to come together as a single 
embodiment at all. I should suppose that 
these cases do occur, and one cannot say 



102 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

they are mere absences of beauty. No 
doubt they would have a positively shock- 
ing effect. But we see what they would 
be. They would be, not something new 
and alien and brought from somewhere 
else than beauty. They would consist in 
a beauty in the wrong place, parallel to 
conceiving moral badness as a goodness in 
the wrong place. You can easily fancy a 
case by misuse of the human form, sub- 
stituting limbs of the lower animals for its 
limbs, as in fauns or mediaeval devils. 
Suppose the beautiful silky ear of a dachs- 
hund replacing the ear of a beautiful 
human face. It would be, I imagine, a 
horribly hideous thing. Here we have, in 
principle, I think a genuine case of ugliness. 
But we see how limited its antagonism to 
beauty is. Then you get again the problem 
whether in the whole context of what is 
imagined this discord may not itself be 
made expressive, and so subordinated to 
beauty, as in some fairy tale of enchant- 
ment. If so, note that it becomes really 
a part of the whole beauty. It is a half- 



in MERE INEXPRESSIVENESS ? 103 

hearted theory to call it ugly, and treat it 
as a foil to beauty, like dark to light. 

We have then not yet really run down 
our true or invincible ugliness ; though we 
have approached it so far as we have found 
something akin to it in a form of " in- 
expressiveness." 

For Croce the ugly is the purely in- 
expressive. But that we saw is not strictly 
possible. 

The inexpressive, except by self-contra- 
diction, would be nothing. For how can 
any appearance be inexpressive ? Its 
defect could only be due to our want of 
insight and sympathy. Put it in another 
way : if the ugly is the unaesthetic, well 
then it is not aesthetic at all, and we are 
not concerned with it. So we seem driven 
to this. If there is a truly ugly which is 
aesthetically judged, and which is not 
merely a failure of our imagination, it 
must be an appearance which is both 
expressive and inexpressive at once, 
aesthetically judged, yet unaesthetic.^ 
" The same thing must be looked for that 



104 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

is looked for in the beautiful, and its 

opposite found " (Solger). That is to say, 

the appearance must suggest an adequate 

embodiment of a feeling, and also frustrate 

it. The imagination must be at once 

excited in a particular direction and 

I thwarted in it. The pain of a discord in 

j music, it has been said, is like trying to 

I do a sum in your head, and finding the 

1 numbers too high. A flickering light is 

I another simple example ; if the period of 

I flickering is just enough to begin to satisfy 

I the eye, and then to check its activity, it 

\^^ is exceedingly painful. 

'"--- Then, going back on our account of the 
embodiment of feeling and the experience 
of the rising mountain, we see that any 
sudden check or break in a pattern, e.g. 
an obvious want of symmetry, if it is not 
explained to the imagination, must have 
this effect of arousing the mind in a certain 
direction, and then obstructing it in that 
same direction. This double effect may 
be brought under the general head of the 
inexpressive. But of course it is not the 



Ill FRUSTRATED EXPRESSION 105 

merely inexpressive — that, as we have said 
throughout, would be at least aesthetically 
nothing at all. It is a form of expression 
whose intention can be detected, very often 
a recollection of some other successful and 
excellent expression, but which in the 
execution violates its own intention. Thus 
you have in it the two factors we held 
necessary ; the suggestion of expressiveness 
and its counteraction by a completion 
conflicting with it. It must be a story 
without a point ; not the caricature of a 
pointless story, because in that the defect 
is made an excellence ; but yet a story. ^ 
The difference between this and the 
case of conflicting beautiful expressions, 
which we spoke of before, is not very wide 
in principle, because we cannot give up 
the observation that every form expresses 
something. The difference is that in this 
case the suggestion of beauty is baffled by 
an expression which consists of the inter- 1 
ruption and positive undoing or negation,^ 
of that in which significance for the sugr . 
gestion consisted. A simple asymmetry, 



106 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

quite unprovoked, is, as we said, a typical 

■ Thus we approach the general result 
that the principal region in which to look 
for insuperable ugliness is that of conscious 
attempts at beautiful expression — in a 
word, the region of insincere and affected 
art. Here you necessarily have the very 
root of ugliness — the pretension to pure 
expression, which alone can have a clear 
and positive failure. It is possible, I take 
it, for the appearances of nature to have the 
same effect, and therefore to be genuinely 
ugly. But there is a wide difference of 
principle between the two provinces, be- 
cause to nature we can never impute the 
conscious effort at beautiful expression ; 
and therefore the particular context in 
which we seem to see such an effort 
negatived must always be one of our own 
choosing. The ugly effect must therefore 
be in some degree imputable to our own 
mis-selection rather than to the being of 
nature herself; although, of course, one 
may argue that just because she has no 



Ill PURE USE NOT FRAUDULENT 107 

conscious choice, she must accept discredit 
for her ugly appearances, as well as credit 
for her beautiful ones. But one might 
perhaps rejoin again, " Yes, but in her in- 
finite wealth of contexts and appearances, 
there is always ample opportunity for the 
selection of beautiful form, and therefore 
we have no right to pin her down to an 
ugliness which does really spring from our 
limitation." You may reply again that 
if it is left to us there is just as much room 
for seeing ugliness as for seeing beauty, f 
But I doubt this. If the intentional 
attempt at beauty is the main condition 
of ugliness, then in nature the main condi- 
tion of ugliness is certainly absent, while 
immeasurable stores of form and order are 
as certainly present for those who can 
elicit them. .-.-'^--^ 

And the same applies in great measure 
to the world of useful objects, so long as 
they pretend to be nothing more than they 
are. So long they cannot be fraudulent ; 
and their solid simplicity of purpose may 
well make it possible to see a beauty in 



108 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

them, due, so to speak, to their single- 
heartedness, which may make their form 
a single harmonious expression. On the 
other hand, any attempt to confer upon 
them mere decorative beauty inconsistent 
with their purpose would at once make 
them positively ugly. 
I /~ This gives us the clue to a reasonable 
\i estimate of the current idea that ugliness 
is all of man's making and not of nature's. 
It seems in principle to rest upon the fact 
we have noted, that man alone has in him 
the capacity for the attempt to achieve pure 
expression for its own sake, in other words, 
beauty, and therefore he is much more 
likely to produce the appearance of the 
combined attempt and failure which we 
have seen to be the essence of the ugly. 

One further ambiguity in a common 
phrase seems worth clearing up. Is beauty 
the aim of art ? Is *' art for art's sake " a 
watchword that conveys a truth ? 

I hope that the line we have taken 
shows its value by making it easy to deal 
with these ideas. Beauty, we have seen. 



m ART AND BEAUTY FREE 109 

is an ambiguous term. If it means some 
given ideal which lays restrictions before- 
hand upon individual expressiveness, some- 
thing of the nature of the easy beauty, 
which rules out what is beyond our capacity 
to grasp at a given moment, then it is 
very dangerous to say that beauty is the 
aim of art. It is dangerous, that is, if it 
means to us that we know beforehand 
what sort or type of thing our beauty is 
to be. For beauty is above all a creation, 
a new individual expression in which a 
new feeling comes to exist. And if we 
understand it so, there is not much meaning 
in saying that it is the aim of art, for we 
do not know beforehand what that is to 
be. If we understand it otherwise, as 
a rule previously prescribed, then it is 
something which must be hostile to free 
and complete expression for expression's 
sake. In that case the aim of art is not 
the full aim, but only the art in the aim, 
and that is a fatal separation. 

Of " art for art's sake " the same 
criticism, I think, holds true. It tells you 



110 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

nothing if it only tells you that the aim of 
art is to do what art truly aims to do. 
But if it means that art is some limiting 
conception, some general standard accepted 
beforehand, then I suggest that it becomes 
actively mischievous. The aim of art 
can then no longer be the full self-develop- 
ing aim which is the aim of art, because 
art as an abstract conception has been 
thrown into the idea of the aim, carrying 
with it a fatal and restricting self-conscious- 
ness. In applying a method or principle 
rightly, you do not think of the method or 
principle. You think of the work, and 
live the method or principle. Art, like 
knowledge, is creative and individual, and 
you cannot lay down beforehand where 
either of them will take you. And if you 
make the attempt, you must be unfaithful 
to their freedom. 

I have not attempted in these lectures 
to give a systematic account either of the 
forms of beauty, for example the tragic 
and the sublime, or of the historical 
development of art. What I desired was 



m THE HEART OF LIFE 111 

to concentrate upon a single leading con- 
ception, the conception of the way in 
which an object of imagination can be 
expressive of feeling, and the consequences 
of this way of expression for the feeling so 
expressed. And what I should like to have 
effected, from a negative point of view, so 
far as it is still necessary in these days, 
would be to have torn away the gilded 
veil, the glamour, so to speak, which hangs 
over the face of beauty and separates it 
from life. We are not advocating what is 
miscalled realism ; our account of imagina- 
tive vision makes that a mere absurdity. 
But I am trying to prove, and not merely 
to prove but to help ourselves to realise, 
how the whole world of beauty, from the 
Greek key pattern on the one hand and 
our admiration of the curve of a waterfall 
on the other, up to the intricacies of the 
greatest architecture or the tension of 
Shakespearean tragedy, is the individual 
operation of a single impulse, the same in 
spectator and creative artist, and best 
discerned when we penetrate the heart of 



112 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect. 

strength and greatness under the veil of 
commonplace destiny or tragic collision, 
where there is no golden haze to flatter 
our indolence and luxury. And now as 
always one's words seem a tale of little 
meaning, which goes on missing the heart 
of its own intention. Let me end with a 
quotation from an early tractate of Goethe, 
which contains in a few brief strokes all 
that I have been saying, and the germ, I 
think, of all that the last hundred years 
of aesthetic have taught us. Only I must 
give the warning that he employs the 
term beautiful sometimes in the sense 
which he and I alike are working against, 
the sense of easy beauty. 

The passage, however, explains itself : 
" When I first went to see the cathedral, 
my head was full of general conceptions of 
good taste. I reverenced, from hearsay, 
harmony of masses and purity of form, 
and was a sworn foe to the confused 
caprices of Gothic decoration. Under the 
rubric ' Gothic,' like an article in a dic- 
tionary, I had collected all the mistaken 



STRASBURG CATHEDRAL 113 

synonyms that had ever come into my 
head, ' disorderly, unnatural, a heap of 
odds and ends, patchwork, overloaded.' 
. . . How unexpected was the feeling with 
which the sight amazed me, when I stood 
before the building. My soul was filled 
by a great and complete impression, which, 
because it was composed of a thousand 
harmonious details, I was able to taste and 
to enjoy, but in no way to understand and 
explain. How constantly I returned to 
enjoy this half-heavenly pleasure, to com- 
prehend in their work the giant-spirit of 
our elder brothers ! . . . How often has 
the evening twilight interrupted with 
friendly rest the eye fatigued by its 
exploring gaze, when the complex parts 
melted into complete masses, which, simple 
and great, stood before my soul, and my 
powers arose gladly at once to enjoy and 
to understand. . . . How freshly it greeted 
me in the morning briUiance, how gladly I 
observed the great harmonious masses, 
vitalised in their numberless minute parts, 
as in the work of eternal nature, all of it 






114 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lect, 

form, and all bearing upon the whole ! 
how lightly the enormous firm-based build- 
ing rises into the air, how broken it is, and 
yet how eternal ! And so do I not well 
to be angry when the German art-scholar 
mistakes his own advantage, and dispar- 
ages this work with the unintelligible term 
'Gothic'! . . . 
\-Kjr " But you, dear youth, shall be my 
"' companion, you who stand there in emo- 
tion, unable to reconcile the contradictions 
which conflict in your soul ; who now feel 
the irresistible power of the great totality, 
and now chide me for a dreamer, that I see 
beauty, where you see only strength and 
roughness. 

"Do not let a misconception come 
between us ; do not let the effeminate 
doctrine of the modern beauty-monger 
make you too tender to enjoy significant 
roughness, lest in the end your enfeebled 
feeling should be able to endure nothing 
but unmeaning smoothness. They try to 
make you believe that the fine arts arose 
from our supposed inclination to beautify 



ni THE ONLY TRUE ART 115 

the world around us. That is not 
true. . . . 

" Art is formative long before it is 
beautiful, and yet is then true and great art, 
very often truer and greater than beautiful 
art itself. For man has in him a formative 
nature, which displays itself in activity as 
soon as his existence is secure ; so soon as 
he is free from care and from fear, the 
demigod, active in repose, gropes round 
him for matter into which to breathe his 
spirit. And so the savage remodels with 
bizarre traits, horrible forms, and coarse 
colours, his ' cocos,' his feathers, and his 
own body. And though this imagery 
consists of the most capricious forms, yet 
without proportions of shape, its parts 
will agree together, for a single feeling has 
created them into a characteristic whole. 

" Now this characteristic art is the only 
true art. When it acts on what lies round 
it from inward, single, individual, inde- 
pendent feeling, careless and even ignorant 
of all that is alien to it, then, whether born 
of rude savagery or of cultivated sensibility, 

12 



116 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC lecthi 

it is whole and living. Of this you see 
numberless degrees among nations and 
individuals. 

" The more that this beauty penetrates 
the being of a mind, seeming to be of one 
origin with it, so that the mind can tolerate 
nothing else, and produce nothing else, so 
much the happier is the artist." ^ 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty 
much what I have been trying to say to 
you. 

1 From Goethe's Von deutscher Baukunst, written when he 
was twenty-four. Werke, ed. Stuttgart, 1858, Bd. 25, S. 1. 
The subject is Strasburg Cathedral. 



In the discussion on p. 85 ff. the reader might be puzzled 
as to the relation of the two phases of beauty, " easy " and 
" difficult," together with the three suggested cases of 
" difficulty " in beauty, to the various species of the beautiful, 
such as beauty proper, sublimity, and others, which are 
mentioned here and there in the text, but are not methodic- 
ally discussed. 

I should explain that I held a methodical account of the 
species of beauty too much to undertake in the limits of these 
lectures, and therefore confined myself to explaining how 
there can at all be a genuine beauty which yet falls beyond 
that to which the name is currently given. The distinctions 
of pp. 85 and 87 are akin to the specific distinctions but do 
not coincide with them. 



INDEX 



Aesthetic, attitude, Lecture I. 

Animals, and aesthetic 
quality, 18 

A priori, of pleasantness, 39 

Aristotle, on music, 53 

" weakness of the spec- 
tator," 89 

Art for Art's sake, 109 

" Body-and-mind," 7 
Beauty, broader and nar- 
rower use, 83 ff. 

easy and difficult, 85 ff. 

and ugliness, 106 ff. 

aim of art ? 108 
Bradley, A. C, on Shelley, 66 

" Charm of Nature," 54 
Cliina and Japan, 82 
Community, aesthetic 

quality, 5 
" Contemplative," 6 
criticised, 80 
not = inert, 33 
Croce, Benedetto, v, 67 ff., 
103 ff. 

Dante, imitation passing into 

idealisation, 51 
" Difficulty " in beauty, 

sources of, 87 

Empathy or Einfiihlung, 20 n. 
Euripides, Browning, and G. 
Murray, 80 



Expression, 33 ff. 

and representation, 41 ff. 

of inexpressiveness, 100 ff. 
Eye, movements and muscles 
of, 24, 

Fancy and fact, 28 

Feeling, main character of, 1 1 

object of, 8, 19 
Festal view of art, 75 
Form, paradox of, 13 ff. 

distinguished from shape, 
23 

Georgian poetry, book of, 

cited, 8 
Goethe, on characteristic art, 

113 

Hogarth, 39 

Homer (shield of Achilles), 
49 

Ideal in art, 03 
Idealisation, 51, 55 
Idealism, false, 68 
Imagination, aesthetic, 26 

and the medium, 62 
Imitation, the miracle of, 

50 
Imitative, music not, 53 
Impressionism, 81 
Intricacy, 87 



Jar, 22 ff. 



117 



118 LECTURES ON AESTHETIC 



Mackail, Select Epigrams, 
54 n. 

Medium, root of classifica- 
tion of arts, 59 ff. 

Medium of poetry, 64 
alleged bodiless, 69 

Method in philosophy, 3 

Minor arts, 59 

Mitchell, Structure and Growth 
of Mind, 22 n. 

Morris, William, 61, 81 

Nature, what we mean by it, 

54 
Nineteenth century, relics of 

romance, 79 

Object. See Feeling 

self and appearance, 9 
Orchomenus, ceiling, 41 

Paradox of ugliness, 97 
Patterns, 39, 42, 57, 59 
Permanence, aesthetic 

quality, 5 
Philosophy, distinguished 

from Science, 3 
Plastic, how feeling becomes, 

7 



Pleasures, scale of aesthetic 

10 
Poets of our Day, cited, 78 
Rackham's Midsummer 

Night's Dream, 83 
Relevance, aesthetic quality, 5 
Representation, 41 ff. 
" Rising Mountain," the, 20 
Ruskin, on life of workmen, 

61, 80 

Science. See Philosophy 
Semblance, aesthetic, 10 
Smith, J. A., on feeling, v 
Square and cube, 19, 29, 39 
Stevenson's Velasquez, 81 

Taste, judgment of, 31 

Tension, 89 

Things, how expressive, 44 ff. 

Ugliness, 95 ff. 
Unaesthetic interests, 52 
Useful objects, 107 

Vernon Lee, 22 n. 

" Weakness of Spectator," 89 
Whistler, and Nature, 51 
Width, 92 



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